The Civil Practice Committee Proposes One Substantive Amendment to the Appellate Rules

The Supreme Court Civil Practice Committee just issued its 2020 report about proposed (and rejected) amendments to the New Jersey Court Rules. The full report is available here. Comments on that report are due by March 20, 2020.

There are many substantive changes in the proposed rules, which make this report required reading. But there is only one such change proposed in the Part 2 appellate rules, and it affects only criminal matters, and only a limited subset of those. There are also a few “housekeeping amendments” proposed, including changes to Rules 2:2-3, 2:9-3, and 2:9-10. They “address changes as a result of new Pretrial Intervention Rules and … remove references to a deleted statute.”

That change involves Rule 2:4-3(c), which lists events that toll the time for an appeal in a criminal matter. The proposal is add to that list of events the filing of a motion for reconsideration of an order granting pretrial detention pursuant to Rule 2:9-13.

The report explains that “Rule 2:9-13 provides seven days from entry of an order granting pretrial detention to file an appeal. As a result, those defendants who elect to first file motions for reconsideration with the trial court often miss the seven-day deadline.” This amendment is particularly important, the report states, because “it is not infrequent that defendants are in this situation without an attorney or public defender and may risk losing the right to appeal if they move for reconsideration.”

Some other aspects of this report arise out of appellate decisions, even if the proposed rule changes do not affect the appellate rules directly. In a particularly significant example, the Civil Practice Committee proposes a new Rule 4:25-8, dealing with motions in limine. A different proposal for a rule regarding motions in limine, the report states, was offered in the previous rules cycle. But the Supreme Court did not act on that proposal, and the Civil Practice Committee crafted the current proposal based on, among other things, input from the New Jersey State Bar Association, which had opposed the previous proposal.

Both proposals arose out of Cho v. Trinitas Reg’l Med. Ctr., 443 N.J. Super. 461 (App. Div. 2016), discussed here. The problems discussed there have continued to appear in subsequent decisions, including this one and this one [Disclosure: I represented the successful appellant in that matter]. The subject deserves its own Court Rule.