Supreme Court Civil Practice Committee Report Recommends Changes to the Appellate Rules

The 2014 Report of the Supreme Court Civil Practice Committee has been issued.  The Committee has recommended changes to certain appellate rules.  Other changes proposed to the Committee were not recommended.  The Supreme Court has invited written comments on the report.  Any such comments are due by April 11, 2014.

Four changes to the appellate rules were recommended.  First, Rule 1:13-9 would be amended so as to provide that a motion is not required for a non-party not previously granted amicus curiae status to file a brief in the Supreme Court regarding a motion for leave to appeal or a petition for certification.  Relatedly, Rule 2:12-10 would be amended to require that the date of any order granting certification be posted on the Judicary website, so that the time frames for amici to file briefs (time frames that are otherwise unaffected by the proposed amendment) will be known.

Second, Rule 2:5-6(c) would be amended.  That Rule provides that when a motion for leave to appeal to the Appellate Division is filed, the trial level judge of whose ruling review is sought has five days from the judge’s receipt of the motion for leave to appeal to file a written statement of reasons for his or her disposition.  The amendment would extend that time to ten days.

Third, Rule 2:6-11 would be amended to provide expressly that the filing of certain motions will toll the time for the filing of merits briefs and appendices in the Appellate Division.  Motions that would create tolling would include motions to supplement the record in the trial court or administrative agency, to strike all or part of a brief or appendix, to dismiss the appeal, for final remand, to stay appellate proceedings, or to file an overlength brief.  Currently, it is not clear, especially to pro se parties or attorneys who do not often handle appeals, which motions create such a tolling effect, and the Clerk’s Office is undoubtedly burdened with calls asking for clarification of that issue.  This proposed amendment would provide clarity.

Fourth, Rule 2:11-1, which deals with requests for oral argument, would be clarified to state that, in the Appellate Division, when one party files a request for oral argument, other parties may rely on that request and need not file requests of their own.  The proposed amendment would also provide that a party may not withdraw an oral argument request without the consent of all other parties. 

The Committee rejected a suggestion that two-judge Appellate Division panels no longer be used.  Also rejected was a suggestion that, in cases of a dissent in the Appellate Division, the Supreme Court be allowed to review the entire case rather than just the issue(s) as to which there was a dissent.