This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To learn more, visit njsba.com.

Municipal Court Operations, Fines and Fees

The NJSBA offered a number of comments to the Supreme Court on its Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines and Fees. It lauded the Supreme Court for addressing the issue in light of the association’s own Report on Judicial Independence in the Municipal Courts last year, specifically the fact that the Supreme Court incorporated many of the association’s own recommendations. It offered additional comments, including recommendations to:

  • Explore alternatives to incarceration in addition to alternatives to license suspension.
  • Extend a proposed policy limiting the issuance of bench warrants to matters where outstanding fines or fees owed by a defendant exceed $250 to include cases with consequences of magnitude.
  • Establish a goal of operating municipal courts in a paperless fashion, including sending electronic notices to defendants, to enhance the aim of centralizing and modernizing municipal court notice generation and printing to improve the quality and functionality of notice processing and to take advantage of high-volume printing and postage discounts.
  • Develop an appeal process within the municipal court judge appointment procedure through which a candidate can appeal a decision of the Qualifications Committee and address whether a candidate who is found unqualified initially can be resubmitted after a period of time.

Electronic Filing of Papers

The New Jersey State Bar Association supports the proposed changes to Rule 1:4-9 to clarify the requirement that only one side of the paper be used and that recycled paper be used, provided legibility is maintained. The proposed amendment also calls for all electronically filed documents to be appropriately rotated and not be submitted in an incorrect orientation such as upside down, sideways or backwards.

The association recommended that language be added to permit an opportunity to resubmit any document that is not appropriately rotated without the need for a formal amendatory filing or additional fees.

Complex Business Litigation Program Proposed Guidelines

The association supported the majority of the proposed recommendations to the Complex Business Litigation Program, with one exception regarding the Model Joint Discovery Plan. The plan calls for the inclusion of information in connection with settlement discussions, specifically the submission of the amount of the plaintiff’s last demand and the defendant’s last offer. The NJSBA pointed out that this information is usually confidential until an agreement is reached, even to the extent that it is not typically shared with the judge overseeing the matter.

A recommendation was made to revise paragraph three of the Model Joint Discovery Plan to seek only information about whether settlement negotiations have taken place, but not to include any details about these negotiations.

The association supported all of the other proposals, including the proposed overview and case management guidelines, scheduling order, electronic discovery stipulation and order, and clawback stipulation and order.

For a full copy of the comments by the NJSBA, go to njsba.com.