The Supreme Court Corrects Itself

W.J.A. v. D.A., 210 N.J. 229 (2012).  On May 16, the Supreme Court issued its per curiam decision in this case, as discussed here.  On May 21, without comment, the Court issued a corrected opinion.  The difference appears to be that the Court has excised several sentences that stated that an award of nominal damages could serve as a basis for punitive damages.  That idea conflicted with the Punitive Damages Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.9 to -5.17.  The corrected opinion states that “all elements of the Punitive Damages Act must be satisfied in order to sustain a punitive damages award.”

It has been said that a Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but rather that it is infallible because it is final.  Like all of us, the Supreme Court is fallible.  Unlike many of us, however, the Court is willing to correct its own errors.