New Jersey State Court System

  • Superior Court: The Superior Court, Law Division, Civil Part has jurisdiction over all civil cases, including tort and personal injury cases.
  • Superior Court Appellate Division:The Superior Court, Appellate Division is the top tier of the Superior Court. It hears appeals from the law division.
  • New Jersey Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of New Jersey. The Supreme Court has final judicial authority in all cases in the state court system.

*Some of the courts in the New Jersey Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. In New Jersey, each complaint must be accompanied by a completed and signed Case Information Statement (CIS). The Case Information Statement is a brief statement that identifies the case type and contains information about the case, including the degree of complexity as well as any special accommodations that may be required for a timely resolution to the case. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and CIS and properly serves them on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 35 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery: is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions: In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Complementary Dispute Resolution (CDR) programs help parties resolve their disputes outside of the courtroom. CDR may help parties to resolve their disputes primarily in three ways: through voluntary settlement of their claims; through mediation, in which a neutral third party encourages and helps the parties to reach an agreement, and through arbitration, in which a neutral third party or panel considers evidence, decides the matter and issues an award. Depending on the circumstances, the arbitration decision and award may be binding or non-binding.

  • Settlement proceedings – the parties appear before a neutral third party or panel of such neutrals who assists them in attempting to resolve their dispute by their voluntary agreement, but by giving a suggested settlement;
  • Mediation – a neutral third party, without any power makes a decision, facilitates communication between parties in an effort to promote settlement without imposition of the mediator’s own judgement regarding the issues in dispute
  • Arbitration – counsel presents its case to a neutral third party, who then renders a specific award which may be binding or non-binding, according to statute, rule, or the parties’ prior agreement.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

After a final judgment is entered, the party wishing to appeal must file a notice of appeal with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days after the entry of the final judgment.

Recovery

According to N.J.S.A. 2A:14-4, a judgment may be revived within 20 years after the date of the judgment.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in New Jersey. Should you have a question/concern specific to New Jersey law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey.