Accepting Appellate Case Referalls
Litigation is an imperfect process. Judges are called upon every day to make decisions. Some are easy decisions, and some are difficult. The vast majority of times, judges get it right. However, sometimes judges make errors in applying the law or by failing to admit or consider important evidence. Without exception, no Judge has ever claimed to be perfect or infallible.
Often, the errors made by judges are insignificant and have no impact upon the outcome of the case. This is referred to as a “harmless error.” However, on occasion, an error on an important issue could change the outcome entirely. Fortunately, litigants can have questionable or incorrect judgments and orders reviewed by the Appellate Division.
Filing an appeal is serious business. I accept appellate cases referred from lawyers and from litigants dissatisfied with the outcome of their cases before the trial court.
The Appellate Process Following The Entry Of A Final Judgement
N.J. Const., art. VI, § V, ¶ 2 provides that “[a]ppeals may be taken to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court from the law and chancery divisions of the Superior Court, the County Courts and in such other causes as may be provided by law.”
The timing and manner of your appeal depend upon whether you are appealing an order prior to the conclusion of your case or after the entry of a “final judgement” by the trial court. The distinction is important because a litigant only has a right to appeal after the entry of a final judgement. Prior to the entry of a final judgement, a litigant must seek permission or leave to file an appeal.
Rule 2:2-3(a) provides that appeals “from final judgments of Superior Court trial divisions” are allowed as of right to the Appellate Division. A “final judgment” is one that resolves all issues to all parties; any other order or decision is interlocutory.
Notably, Rule 1:7-4 requires Judges of the trial courts to “find the facts and state its conclusions of law” on all motions decided by written orders appealable as of right. This Rule is for the benefit of the litigants, who are clearly entitled to be advised by the Judge of the legal and factual basis of the decision. But equally, this rule is for the benefit of the Appellate Division, which will closely examine the evidence submitted to the trial court and trial judge’s factual findings and legal conclusions in the event of an appeal.
Thus, the primary focus of the Appellate Division will be on the following question: Is there is an appealable judgment or order? Notably, an appeal cannot be taken from the trial judge’s required statement of reasons (R. 2:203(a)), whether that statement is a written or oral opinion, an oral decision, or an informal written decision. The appeal must be taken only from a formal judgment or order. Failure to appeal from a formal judgment or order will result in the immediate rejection of the appeal.
The Appellate Process Prior To The Entry Of A Final Judgement
Quite often, litigants will seek appellate review of an interlocutory order prior to the entry of a final judgement. Litigants have no right to be heard in the Appellate Division on an interlocutory order. Thus, litigants must ask for permission or leave to appeal.
Procedurally, a request for appellate review of an interlocutory order is initiated by a Motion for Leave to Appeal. These motions are not favored by the Appellate Division, and the Appellate Division has broad discretion in deciding whether to review an interlocutory order prior to the conclusion of the trial.
According to Rule 2:2-4 “the Appellate Division may grant leave to appeal, in the interest of justice, from an interlocutory order of a court or of a judge sitting as a statutory agent, or from an interlocutory decision or action of a state administrative agency or officer, if the final judgment, decision or action thereof is appealable as of right pursuant to R. 2:2-3(a).”
As stated, these are difficult motions to win. But fortunately, the denial of the motion does not come with any penalty. It does give rise to any inference concerning the merits of the issue, and does not bar a full review of the issue on appeal following the entry of a a final judgment.
Again, once a final judgment has been entered, the litigant may appeal as of right from that judgment, and raise as an issue any interlocutory decision or order believed to be erroneous.
Flexible Fee Arrangements
Due to the nature of the appellate process, appellate work is not accepted on a solely contingent basis. Blended fee arrangement (part reduced hourly rate and part contingency) could be considered where appropriate based up several factors.
As always, for clients on an hourly fee billing arrangement, I focus on providing cost-effective legal services that maximize value to those clients.
Contact Union County Appeal Attorney Daniel P. Silberstein Today
Mr. Silberstein is a skilled litigator who understands that we don’t always get the outcome we want despite our best efforts. If you are facing litigation, it’s important to understand that there are no guarantees. To ease any anxiety concerning the outcome of your case, rest assured that Mr. Silberstein can aggressively pursue an appeal should that become necessary or advisable. Unfortunately, we do not handle appeals for cases that we did not handle at the trial level.
If you feel like your trial ended with the wrong result, we can review your case and determine whether you should file an appeal. Contact us today via phone or email to schedule an appointment with an experienced Union County appeal attorney who can help you reach the right outcome. Our office is conveniently located in Union County, New Jersey, and we serve clients in Newark, Elizabeth, and more.