Appellate aficionados have undoubtedly heard the news that the distinctively Jerseyan Courier New 12-point font may be on its way out of New Jersey appellate practice. On January 28, 2022, the Supreme Court Rules Committees published proposed amendments to the New Jersey Court Rules, including a number of appellate rules (such as required font). Appellate practitioners should be aware of these potential changes that may be adopted for the New Jersey Appellate Division and Supreme Court.
There was no middle ground on Courier New 12-point for practitioners—it was either hated or loved. Undoubtedly in an effort to standardize with federal courts and other courts, the change in Rule 2:6-10 proposes to make Times New Roman 14-point the standard font.
Of course, with a new font comes new page limitations. The proposed change to Rule 2:6-7 reduces the length of initial briefs to 50 pages (down from 65 pages) and the length of reply briefs to 15 pages (down from 20 pages). Similarly, a respondent/cross appellant brief would be reduced to 75 pages (down from 90 pages). The proposed change also specifies how a party may file a motion to seek leave to file an over-length brief. As a reminder, the New Jersey appellate rules (both current and proposed) permit 26 lines of text per page, which is slightly more than what Microsoft Word would generally default to in a standard double-paced document. Another proposed change (Rule 2:6-2) would prohibit the use of a letter in lieu of a formal brief by mandating all filings be in the format of briefs containing a table of contents and table of authorities.
Another major proposed change is to Rule 2:2-3, governing interlocutory appeals as of right. Only final orders are appealable, unless a specific carve out is found in the Rules. The proposed amendment adds two new categories of appealable interlocutory orders. The first is an order granting or denying a motion for class certification. The second is an order denying a motion to intervene as of right. The proposal notes that both orders “have a profound impact on the progress of a case in a trial court,” and, as such, both orders should be immediately appealable notwithstanding the lack of finality. Additionally, the proposed Rule 2:5-6 combines into a single omnibus rule all rules governing motions for leave to appeal, which are currently spread across three separate rules.
Proposed Rule 2:5-1 rewrites the Rule in its entirety. The proposed Rule 2:5-1(a) specifies that to initiate an appeal a party must file the Notice of Appeal, a transcript request form, and the Case Information Statement. A Notice of Appeal, on its own, is insufficient to vest jurisdiction in the appellate court. Rule 2:5-1(b) and (c) specify the appellant must serve all other parties and the trial court. Along those lines, a newly proposed Rule 2:5-7(e)(1) specifies that filing a document on eCourts-Appellate constitutes service of that document on the other parties.
Proposed amendment to Rule 2:6-1 would bring the New Jersey rule governing appendices more closely into parity with current federal appellate rules. In so doing, the proposed rule “encourages” the parties to meet and confer with the goal of submitting a single joint appendix.
The proposed amendment to Rule 2:3-3 contains an affirmative, and continuing, duty to notify the appellate court of any related appeals. This includes new appeals filed after commencement of the ongoing appeal. The amendment also specifies that the duty applies not just to New Jersey appeals, but to appeals in any other jurisdiction.
Before implementation, all proposed rule changes must be approved by the Supreme Court. The public may submit comments to the Administrative Office of Courts on these appellate rules, and the other proposed changes, by March 31, 2022. Then Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the proposed amendments on June 1, 2022. A decision on the proposed rules is then expected over the summer, with any new adopted rules going into effect on September 1, 2022 at the start of the 2022-2023 judicial term.