THE RULES, THEY ARE A’CHANGIN
We all know by now that the Supreme Court has made its decisions as to the recommendations of its Committee on Civil Practice and on September 5, 2000, these changes take effect. The changes are organized into Trial Court Rules (developed by the Civil Practice Committee), Best Practice Rules (developed as part of best practices by the Conference of Civil Presiding Judges), Appellate Rules and Special Civil Part Rules.
We will try to highlight some of those rules and practices starting with Trial Court Rules:
R.1:5-6 - The Court will return all documents not accompanied by either a Civil Case Information Statement or a check for proper fees. The papers will be stamped "received but not filed." The sender will have 10 days to re-file and the papers will then be filed with the original date they were received. The same holds for those filings failing to include an affidavit of insurance coverage or the Parents Education Program registration fee required in Family Part.
R.1:6-2 - Part c has been amended to require the moving papers in discovery motions set forth the date of any scheduled arbitration, as well as the previously required dates. In motions requesting oral argument, moving counsel will receive a call from the judge’s chambers confirming oral argument and giving the time- the moving party will notify the other parties. Arguments by telephone will be encouraged.
R.4:4-3 - By Whom Complaints are Served. In addition to Sheriffs, summons and complaints may now be served by the attorney, the attorney’ agent or by any other competent adult with no interest in the litigation. Unless the court states otherwise, only sheriffs may serve writs and process to enforce judgments or orders.
R.4:5A - Case Tracks - Cases will be assigned to one of four tracks, notification of which will be sent to plaintiff’s counsel within 10 days after filing. The tracks will determine the time allowed for discovery - Tract 1 - 150 days; Track II - 300 days; Track III -450 days and Tract IV - Active Case Management by a Judge and 450 days.
R.4:17-1 - Attorneys are now prohibited from refusing to answer a question in uniform interrogatories by claiming the question is improper. For cases filed after September 5, there is a new provision for automatic discovery. If defendant is subject to answering a set of uniform interrogatories, they will be deemed to be served together with the complaint and must be answered in 60 days. The plaintiff, if subject to a set of uniform interrogatories is deemed to have received service simultaneously with service of the answer and must answer the interrogatories within 30 days.
R.4:17-2 - The 40 day rule for propounding non-mandatory interrogatories will be enforced; for plaintiff 40 days after service of the defendant’s answer, for defendant, 40 days after serving its answer.
R.4:18-1 - Production of Documents - Time within which to answer has been expanded to 35 days and the amended rule, for the first time, allows a motion to apply to sanctions of R.4:23-5 to a failure to comply with a request for a document or inspection.
R.2:5-1 - Notice of Appeal must be on form set down by the administrative director of the courts.
R.2:6-12 - Proofs of service of brief and appendix must now be filed simultaneously with the filing of the brief.
R.6:2-1 and 6:2-3c require new form of Summons; new language to be inserted in any motion before the court -these forms may be found in the Rules, Appendices XI-A(1) (2) and 6:3-3 motion practice requires new language.
The changes are vast and will require changes in procedure. Examine the rules closely so that you are aware of all the changes made; the above are but a few that we have singled out for your attention.