We represent clients on appeal in civil, commercial, employment, and securities matters, including, for example, breach of contract actions, business torts cases, labor, employment, and employee benefits matters, bankruptcy and adversary proceedings, special proceedings challenging government agencies’ actions, and divorce actions and post-divorce judgment proceedings.
Our services encompass all stages of appellate practice, such as:
- Counseling clients on the appellate process and whether an order or judgment should be appealed
- Analyzing trial transcripts and judicial decisions to frame issues for appeal
- Prosecuting, or defending against, substantive motions for appellate relief, including motions for stays pending appeal, applications for leave to appeal from interlocutory orders, petitions for certification of final judgments of the Appellate Division, motions for summary disposition, and motions for reconsideration
- Researching and drafting persuasive appellate briefs
- Planning and delivering oral argument which convincingly addresses the strengths and drawbacks of the case
New Jersey Appeals
What Standard Of Review Applies To My Business’s Appeal In New Jersey?
In appeals in New Jersey’s Appellate Division or in the New Jersey Supreme Court, as the case may be, some of the standards by which the appellate court reviews asserted errors of the lower state court or state administrative agency are as follows. At the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC, we have substantial experience litigating, on behalf of companies and individuals, appeals under these standards of review and others.
De Novo Or Plenary Review: The de novo standard of review is the least deferential to the original tribunal. Under the de novo standard, the appellate court considers the issue as if it were being presented to the appellate court in the first instance. The appellate court is not obliged to defer to the findings of fact or conclusions of law of a trial court or administrative agency, but may determine the merits of an issue as if it were being presented for the first time.
Among the circumstances that give rise to the de novo standard of appellate review are: (1) appeals involving purely legal issues; (2) interpretation of contracts; (3) whether to apply a marketability discount in a valuation dispute; and (4) application of the Frye test to determine the admissibility of novel scientific evidence.
Sufficiency Of Evidence To Support The Decision: Under the sufficiency of the evidence standard, whether or not the appellate court would’ve reached the same result as the tribunal below, based on the evidence below, is not the test. The evidence below is weighed only to the extent of the appellate court satisfying itself that there was some evidence to support the decision by the trial court or the administrative agency.
One circumstance in which the sufficiency of the evidence standard is applied is an appeal involving an issue of fact.
Clearly Erroneous: The “clearly erroneous” standard of review, too, is highly deferential to the lower court. The appellate court will overturn the original decision only if it is shown to be so erroneous that no reasonable analysis could have produced it.
Circumstances in which the clearly erroneous standard is applied include jury verdicts and rationale, the evaluation of closely held businesses, and certain administrative decisions.
Mistaken Exercise Of Discretion: The “mistaken exercise of discretion” or “abuse of discretion” standard closely resembles the clearly erroneous standard. The appellate court must determine that a decision, which is within the discretion of the trial court or administrative agency, was so wrongly decided that it constituted an abuse of discretion and warrants intervention. As with the sufficiency of the evidence standard, it is not sufficient to cause a reversal for the appellate court to conclude that it might’ve exercised discretion in a different manner.
One circumstance giving rise to the mistaken exercise of discretion standard is the trial court’s entry of a protective order.
Miscarriage Of Justice: Under the “miscarriage of justice” standard, the appellant or petitioner bears a heavy burden. Under this standard, the appellate court must determine that allowing the decision to stand would result in a miscarriage of justice. It is not enough that the decision reached was irrational or unsupported by evidence. To be reversed, the result of the decision must be such that a reasonable person apprised of the facts in the record would be shocked by the result reached.
One circumstance governed by the miscarriage of justice standard is an appeal from the denial of a motion to reverse a jury verdict on the ground that it is against the weight of the evidence.
Arbitrary And Capricious: So, too, the “arbitrator and capricious” standard of review is highly deferential to the lower court or the administrative agency that rendered the decision. Under this standard the original tribunal must be shown to have acted either without logic with regard to the facts presented, or without any reasonable criteria that would support the decision that was reached. This standard focuses principally on the process and manner by which the original tribunal reached the decision. Consequently, if the lower court or the administrative agency applied rational criteria to arrive at its decision, the decision generally will not be deemed arbitrary or capricious.
Circumstances in which the arbitrary and capricious standard governs include appeals of regulatory actions by an administrative agency.
What Merits-Based Motions May My Company Bring On Appeal In New Jersey?
In appeals in New Jersey’s Appellate Division or in the New Jersey Supreme Court, as the case may be, some of the substantive motions which the “appellant” — the company or individual appealing — frequently brings are as follows. At the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC, we have substantial experience litigating, on behalf of entities and individuals, these appellate motions and others.
Motions For Stays Pending Appeal: Under N.J. Ct. R. 2:9-5, the standards for grant by New Jersey’s Appellate Division — the State of New Jersey’s intermediate court of appeals — of a stay pending appeal of a trial court’s judgment, other than a money judgment, are the same as those applicable to the trial court. Specifically, the Appellate Division must balance the equities including the factors of (1) irreparable harm, (2) existence of a meritorious issue and (3) the likelihood of success.
Applications For Leave To Appeal From Interlocutory Orders: New Jersey’s Appellate Division may grant leave to appeal from an interlocutory order (that is, a non-final order) of the Superior Court (that is, the trial court) “in the interest of justice.” N.J. Ct. R. 2:2-4.
Under this “interest of justice” standard, the Appellate Division may grant leave to appeal where some grave damage or injustice may be caused by the Superior Court’s order, such as may occur when the trial court grants, continues, modifies, refuses or dissolves an injunction, appoints a receiver or refuses an order to wind up a pending receivership or to take the appropriate steps to accomplish the purposes of the receivership, such as directing a sale or other disposal of property held under the receivership.
The Appellate Division may also be induced to grant leave to appeal where the appeal, if sustained, will terminate the litigation and thus very substantially conserve the time and expense of the litigants and the courts, as in the case where the order attacked determines that the trial court has subject matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction.
In turn, the New Jersey Supreme Court – the State of New Jersey’s highest court – may grant leave to appeal from non-final orders “when necessary to prevent irreparable injury.” N.J. Ct. R. 2:2-2(b). This “irreparable injury” standard expresses the immediacy and urgency which justify review by the New Jersey Supreme Court of an interlocutory order.
Petitions For Certification Of Final Judgments Of The Appellate Division: Pursuant to N.J. Ct. R. 2:12-4, a litigant may bring, in the New Jersey Supreme Court, a petition for certification of a final judgment of New Jersey’s Appellate Division that is not appealable as of right. A grant of a petition for certification allows the petitioner to appeal, to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the Appellate Division’s final judgment.
A petition for certification will be granted only: (1) where the appeal presents a question of general public importance which has not been but should be settled by the New Jersey Supreme Court or is similar to a question presented on another appeal to the Supreme Court; (2) where the decision under review is in conflict with any other decision of the same or a higher court or calls for an exercise of the Supreme Court’s supervision; or (3) in other matters, where the interest of justice requires.
Motions For Summary Disposition: Rule 2:8-3(b) of the New Jersey Rules of Court provides for summary disposition motions in the Appellate Division, which are analogous to summary judgment motions in the trial courts. In making a motion for summary disposition, the moving party must demonstrate that the issues on appeal do not require further briefs or a full record.
A respondent should move for summary disposition for affirmance of an order or judgment where the appeal is patently frivolous and the questions involved patently insubstantial.
By contrast, an appellant should bring a motion for summary disposition for reversal or modification of an order or judgment where the trial court or administrative agency was patently in error.
In either case, none of the material facts should be at issue, and the legal questions should not be complex.
Motions for Reconsideration: Pursuant to N.J. Ct. R. 2:11-6, a litigant may seek reconsideration of the decision of New Jersey’s Appellate Division. A motion for reconsideration is appropriate where (1) the court has based its decision upon a palpably incorrect or irrational basis, (2) the court did not consider, or failed to appreciate the significance of, probative, competent evidence, or (3) the litigant wishes to bring new or additional information to the court’s attention which the litigant could not have provided on the first application.
Contact the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC to consult with a skilled appeals lawyer about your appellate matter.
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