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BEST PRACTICES - A REVIEW

It is now more than 10 months since the debut of "best practices." We are highlighting some of the Rules:

After filing the complaint, the trial assignment notice (TAN) will be sent stating track designation - this must be sent by plaintiff to all answering defendants.

The discovery period begins either 90 after proof of service is filed, or date of first answer filed. If a new defendant is added, the discovery period will be extended for 60 days.

A notice will be sent 60 days prior to the end of the discovery period. If you need more time, and with consent of your adversaries, you may make application to the court by telephone or in writing, prior to the expiration of the discovery period. You will receive an additional 60 days. Under R.4:23-1 this is automatic. If additional discovery is necessary you must make a motion prior to the end of the discovery period, otherwise you have to make a motion for "exceptional circumstances," which is much harder to get.

Arbitration will be scheduled within 60 days after completion of the discovery period. If you have a complex matter, you may make a motion to remove it from arbitration, otherwise all cases are subject to arbitration.

Newly added parties must be served with (or given access to) all discovery within 20 days of service of their pleadings.

Interrogatories:

For all matters filed after September 5, 2000, if a defendant is subject to answering a uniform set of interrogatories, that defendant is deemed to have received a set along with the complaint. The defendant must then answer them within 60 days.

The plaintiff, if subject to answering a uniform set of interrogatories, is deemed to have received a set along with the answer. They must be answered within 30 days.

Tip - It is a good idea to have a set of uniform interrogatories at the initial meeting with the client so that you can get those answers out within the proscribed time period.

For non-mandatory interrogatories, the 40 day rule will be enforced for plaintiff - 40 days after service of the defendantís answer; for defendant, 40 days after serving its answer.

Production of Documents:

R.4:18-1 has been amended to require that you serve your responses to all Notices to Produce to all defendants, not just the serving party. Also note that the time period has been changed to 35 days.

The default rule has been amended to require your client to enter judgment within 4 months after entry of default (two months earlier than the previous rule).

If there is no proof of service, answer or motion filed in any matter, you will receive a dismissal notice after 4 months. This will be a 60 day notice to which you must respond with a motion.

Motions:

All motions must set forth the date of any scheduled arbitration, as well are the previously required dates. Under Best Practices, oral arguments by telephone will be encouraged by the court.

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