LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS
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New Jersey Appeal Dictionary Of Legal Terms

INTRODUCTION
Read below to learn more about this topic. Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send him an email. Warning – this article does not necessarily include every New Jersey court rule, code or law that may apply to your New Jersey Case! The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws. Before taking any action, read all applicable federal and state source law and Case law and consult with an attorney. Court addresses, hours of operation, deadlines and directions may change so check with the New Jersey Court in advance of mailing documents to court or going there! Some of the webpages on this site don’t apply to all types of New Jersey Cases, since there are different rules for different Case types!

NEW JERSEY APPEAL DICTIONARY OF LEGAL TERMS
Affidavit of Service – A sworn written statement that a person (often a “process server”) successfully served legal documents upon someone else. The New Jersey court may require a person to file an affidavit of service to prove that a person was successfully served with New Jersey court papers. This term is essentially the same as “proof of service”.

Appeal – The process by which a party asks a higher court to review and reverse or modify a lower court's decision.

Appellant -- The party that brings the New Jersey appeal.

Appellate Civil Case Information Statement – If you are answering a New Jersey appeal (the New Jersey appeal respondent) in the New Jersey appeal, within 15 days after service of the New Jersey Notice of Appeal upon you (or your attorney, if you are represented) you must file a New Jersey Appellate Case Information Statement in the form required by the New Jersey Appellate Division Court Rules.

Appellate Record - The record on New Jersey appeal consists of all papers on file in the New Jersey court or courts or agencies below, with all entries as to matters made on the records of such courts and agencies, the stenographic transcript or statement of the proceedings therein, and all papers filed with or entries made on the records of the appellate court. Certain portions of the record must be included in the New Jersey appeal appendix filed by the New Jersey appeal appellant.

Application – A request, usually made by a New Jersey party to a New Jersey Case, that the New Jersey court take a certain action. The term is the same as “motion”. New Jersey Court motions may be in writing or they may be oral. Occasionally courts make their own motion, thereby directing that an action be taken in a New Jersey Case. New Jersey Court motions may be opposed by someone other than the New Jersey party making the New Jersey Court motion.

Arbitration -- Many New Jersey Cases undergo arbitration if they do not settle before it is scheduled. In New Jersey Cases where arbitrations are scheduled, the New Jersey Court schedules the arbitration, which is an informal hearing conducted in a conference room during which all attorneys involved in the New Jersey Case and the New Jersey Court plaintiff must be present and the New Jersey Court defendants do not have to be present (unless they are to testify). New Jersey arbitrators are neutral attorneys appointed by the New Jersey Court to conduct a hearing regarding the facts and law of the New Jersey Case and to make a decision based on same. At the arbitration, witnesses are generally asked to give testimony regarding the facts of their Case. Each party’s attorney generally has an opportunity to cross examine the other party’s witnesses. After any testimony is taken, the New Jersey arbitrator may permit the attorneys for each party to make legal argument. Based on the testimony provided by the witnesses and the legal arguments made by the New Jersey parties’ attorneys, the New Jersey arbitrator shall make a decision for one or more of the New Jersey parties – someone shall win and someone shall lose. The New Jersey arbitrator prepares a written decision and provides a copy to each party. The decision is called an “award” regardless of whether anyone is awarded anything whatsoever. If any party is unhappy with the New Jersey arbitrator’s decision, they have a certain period of time to reject the award by filing a paper seeking a New Jersey Court trial on all issues in the New Jersey Case – a “demand for trial de novo”. If the award is properly appealed, the New Jersey Court usually then sets a date for the New Jersey Case to go to trial. If the award is not rejected, the winner may file papers with the New Jersey Court to confirm the arbitration results, which if successful, shall convert the arbitration award into a final judgment.

Associate Justice – Any justice sitting on the New Jersey Supreme Court other than the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Attorney -- A person admitted to the bar of the New Jersey court and who is thereby licensed to practice law before that court or who is not a member of the bar but is permitted by the New Jersey court to represent a New Jersey party in a New Jersey Case. An attorney may be licensed to practice law in more than one court. This term is the same as “counsel”.

Bench -- The place where the judge is positioned during court proceedings. Sometimes, the term is used to refer to the New Jersey court as a whole.

Bar – One definition is the location in the New Jersey courtroom where attorneys argue Cases. At one time, Cases were literally argued at the bars of taverns. Another definition is the group of attorneys who practice law before a particular court or courts. Often it is used to refer to a group of attorneys that focus on a particular area of law before the New Jersey court (such as the “Bankruptcy Bar”). Another definition of the term is the prevention of a New Jersey party from litigating an issue more than once because the issue was already decided. This is called a “procedural bar”.

Bench trial --A nonjury trial – a New Jersey Court trial at which the judge decides all factual and legal questions before the New Jersey court.

Burden of persuasion -- The obligation of a New Jersey party to meet the requirements of a rule of law that the fact be proved either by a preponderance of the evidence or by clear and convincing evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt, as the New Jersey Case may be.

Burden of producing evidence -- The obligation of a New Jersey party to introduce evidence when necessary to avoid the risk of a judgment or peremptory finding against him on an issue of fact.

Burden of proof – A New Jersey party’s obligation to prove its Case or an issue in the New Jersey Case to the New Jersey court.

Case at bar – The New Jersey Case which the New Jersey court is hearing at a particular time.

Case law -- The body of law made up of written court opinions. Case law is made by judges rather than legislatures, who make statutory law. Compare the terms “regulation” and “statute”.

Common law – the body of law that evolves over time as made by judges interpreting the law. The term is also essentially the same as “Case law”. Compare the terms “regulation” and “statute”.

Complaint -- A civil action for relief that a New Jersey party or their attorney files with the New Jersey court. The New Jersey party who files the complaint is known as a “the New Jersey Court plaintiff” or “third party the New Jersey Court plaintiff”, depending on the type of complaint filed.

Contract Case – a dispute between parties involving an oral or written agreement. New Jersey New Jersey Court Part contract Cases usually involve one party to a contract claiming that another party to the contract breached the contract and thereby caused the first party to sustain damages. Many New Jersey New Jersey Court Part contract Cases involve the collection of a bill or other type of debt.

Crossclaim – One the New Jersey Court defendant’s action against another the New Jersey Court defendant named to the same complaint. The New Jersey Court defendants may file crossclaims against one another.

Crossclaimant – A the New Jersey Court defendant who brings an action against another the New Jersey Court defendant (or co-the New Jersey Court defendant) named to a New Jersey Court complaint. The first the New Jersey Court defendant’s action against a co-the New Jersey Court defendant is called a “crossclaim”.

Counsel -- A person admitted to the bar of the New Jersey court and who is thereby licensed to practice law before that court or who is not a member of the bar but is permitted by the New Jersey court to represent a New Jersey party in a New Jersey Case. A counsel may be licensed to practice law in more than one court. This term is the same as “attorney”.

Counterclaim -- A lawsuit filed by a the New Jersey Court defendant whereby the the New Jersey Court defendant seeks relief against a the New Jersey Court plaintiff that is suing the the New Jersey Court defendant.

Chief Justice -- The presiding Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Damages – Relief that a New Jersey party seeks in the New Jersey court. There are many varieties of damages. The New Jersey court may or may not award them.

Debt collection Case – A collection Case is a Case where a company or person who claims they are owed money (creditor) files a lawsuit against a company or person (debtor) that the creditor claims owes them money. The lawsuit may be filed in the New Jersey New Jersey Court Part. New Jersey debt collection Cases often involve the following: bills for the sale of goods or services, bounced check disputes, condominium dues disputes, contract disputes, credit card bill disputes, defaults and deficiency balances on car loans and leases, Medical bill disputes, security deposit disputes and unpaid rent disputes.
Declarant -- A person who makes a statement.

Default – When a New Jersey party fails to file a written response to a New Jersey Court complaint. In New Jersey New Jersey Court Part, the default is automatically entered by the New Jersey court. In New Jersey Law division, the default must be requested in writing.

Default judgment -- A judgment entered against a New Jersey party for failure to file a written response to a New Jersey Court complaint. It is only entered after the entry of a default.

Defense attorney -- The name for a lawyer who represents a New Jersey Court defendant in any New Jersey Court dispute.

Deposition -- An oral examination of a person who has knowledge regarding the facts of the New Jersey Case. Depositions are rare in New Jersey New Jersey Court Part and they normally require New Jersey court permission. Usually, a New Jersey party to a New Jersey Case requests in writing that a person’s deposition be taken on a specific date. Depositions normally take place in a conference room with the New Jersey court reporter present to take down the witness’ testimony. The testimony is later prepared in book form. Accordingly, everything the witness says during the deposition may be used at a later date (for instance, at trial) to contradict conflicting testimony or to prove a specific point important to the New Jersey Case.

Discovery -- A period of fact finding, which occurs after a lawsuit is filed and normally before parties have an arbitration or trial. During discovery, parties to the lawsuit seek information from each other about their claims or defenses and facts that are relevant to the New Jersey Case. The methods of investigation used during discovery include interrogatories, request for production of documents, depositions, examinations and inspections.

Docket – The New Jersey court’s Case list, which should include a record of all documents filed with the New Jersey Court in each court. In practice, it is not uncommon for New Jersey courts to fail to properly file documents and thus, those documents fail to get listed on the docket, requiring a New Jersey party to make a request to the New Jersey court to correct the docket.

Evidence – Information that parties offer to the New Jersey court to prove or disprove claims. The New Jersey court may choose to accept evidence, thereby allowing it to be part of the New Jersey court’s record or it may reject the evidence, preventing it from being made part of the record.

Frivolous Paper or Pleading – A frivolous paper or pleading is one that violates the New Jersey Court rules or a statute. For example, a paper filed with the New Jersey court may violate the New Jersey Court rules if: (1) it is being presented for an improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; (2) it presents claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are not warranted by existing law or by a non-frivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law; (3) its factual allegations have no evidentiary support or are unlikely to have evidentiary support; and/or (4) its allegations are unwarranted on the evidence or are not reasonably based on a lack of information or belief. A New Jersey Court complaint or answer may violate a statute if the pleading: (1) was commenced, used or continued in bad faith, solely for the purpose of harassment, delay or malicious injury; and/or (2) the New Jersey party presenting the pleading knew or should have known that the pleading was without any reasonable basis in law or equity and could not be supported by a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. The New Jersey court may impose penalties for the filing of frivolous papers or pleadings, including money sanctions.

Hearing -- The name for a variety of court proceedings on a variety of issues. The term includes motions and trials, which are the two most common forms of hearings.

Hearsay -- A statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the New Jersey Court trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.

Hung jury -- A jury that is unable to reach a New Jersey Court verdict because of disagreement between the jurors on an issue or issues.

Information Subpoena -- Within certain periods of time, judgment creditors can serve judgment debtors with a written request for the judgment debtor to disclose personal financial information (called an information subpoena). The information subpoena consists of a series of written questions that the judgment debtor is asked to answer under oath. When answered truthfully and completely, the answers to the information subpoena may provide the judgment creditor with the information necessary for the judgment creditor to proceed with an execution of goods and chattels (writ of execution) against the judgment debtor’s personal property.

Injury -- A claim of wrong or damage , either to a person’s rights, reputation or property (real or personal) for which the claimant seeks relief or reimbursement.

Interpleader – a New Jersey party suing two or more persons claiming the same thing or fund and requesting that the New Jersey court determine between or among the two which is entitled to recover the thing or fund.

Interrogatories – written questions that are normally served upon a New Jersey party during discovery and that must be answered in a specific time frame.

Judgment -- A decision that is made by the New Jersey court in a New Jersey Case heard by it. Courts "enter" judgments for and against parties to a New Jersey Case.

Jury -- A group of people who are put under oath to hear evidence to decide a New Jersey Case by providing a New Jersey Court verdict. New Jersey Court juries “render” verdicts in trials and the judge either accepts or rejects the jury’s verdict. In most New Jersey Cases, juries start with 6 persons and one or more alternates who take the place of any of any of the original jury members who are unable to continue with their duties during a New Jersey Case.

Jury charges – Instructions that a New Jersey Court judge provides a j New Jersey Court jury before the New Jersey Court jury decides a New Jersey Case. They are used to explain the legal standards that a New Jersey Court jury should apply when making its decision.

Jury Trial – A New Jersey Court trial involving a panel of jurors who usually decide the facts of the New Jersey Case at trial. The jury is selected by the New Jersey parties thereafter hears the New Jersey Case. To have a New Jersey Case tried by a jury, you must make a written demand for a New Jersey jury trial and in New Jersey New Jersey Court Part, pay an additional fee. However, not all New Jersey Cases qualify for New Jersey jury trials.

Landlord-tenant section – A subpart of the New Jersey New Jersey Court Part where summary dispossess actions are heard – actions to remove tenants from properties that they are leasing.

Law Division, Civil Part – The division of the Superior Court of New Jersey that hears most civil disputes involving primarily demands for money or certain other kinds of relief.

Lawsuit -- A civil action for relief that a New Jersey party or their attorney files with the New Jersey court. A lawsuit can take the form of a “complaint”, “counterclaim” or “third party complaint”.

Litigation – The process by which parties oppose one another in a legal dispute heard by the New Jersey court.

Mediation - In most Cases heard in the New Jersey New Jersey Court Part, before the New Jersey Court trial occurs the New Jersey New Jersey Court Part requires the New Jersey parties to mediate their dispute. New Jersey New Jersey Court Part mediation is an informal hearing normally held in a conference room. You and the other party and any attorneys involved in the New Jersey Case appear at the New Jersey New Jersey Court Part mediation. The New Jersey New Jersey Court Part mediation is conducted by a neutral New Jersey court appointed mediator. In New Jersey Law Division, cases are often selected by the New Jersey Law Division for mediation.

Mediator - A New Jersey Court mediator is a person trained to attempt to resolve disputes between New Jersey Court and New Jersey Court defendants by sitting down with them and mediating their New Jersey Court Case. The New Jersey Court mediation is conducted by a neutral New Jersey court appointed mediator. The New Jersey court mediator is trained in resolving disputes through the process of New Jersey New Jersey Court Part mediation.

Motion – A request, usually made by a New Jersey party to a New Jersey Case, that the New Jersey court take a certain action. Motions may be in writing or they may be oral. Occasionally courts make their own motion, thereby directing that an action be taken in a New Jersey Case. Motions may be opposed by someone other than the New Jersey party making the motion. The term is the same as “application”.

Nonjury trial – A New Jersey Court trial where a single judge decides the factual and legal questions of a New Jersey Case. Most New Jersey Court trials are nonjury trials.

Notice of Appeal – To file a New Jersey Court Appeal you must file a New Jersey Notice of Appeal. A New Jersey Court Appeal from a New Jersey Court final judgment, order or decision is taken by serving a copy of a New Jersey Notice of Appeal and the request for transcript upon all other parties who appeared in the action and by filing the original notice of appeal (with a copy of any transcript request form) with the New Jersey Appellate Division and forwarding a copy of the New Jersey Notice of Appeal and the New Jersey Court transcript request to the New Jersey court from which the New Jersey Court Appeal is taken. The New Jersey Notice of Appeal filed with the New Jersey Appellate Division must have a New Jersey Appellate Case Information Statement in the form required by the New Jersey Appellate Court Rules attached to the New Jersey Notice of Appeal. If you are filing a New Jersey motion for leave to appeal an interlocutory order or to proceed as an indigent (for a waiver of filing fees) read the appropriate section below about notices of appeal in those situations. NOTE: BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY FILE YOUR APPEAL, YOU MAY HAVE TO ORDER A TRANSCRIPT – SEE THE INSTRUCTIONS ABOVE ABOUT ORDERING TRANSCRIPTS.


Notice to Produce -- Written requests for a New Jersey party to provide access to or copies of documents or things that is normally served upon a New Jersey party during discovery and that must be answered in a specific time frame. A “notice to produce” may also be called a “request for production.”

Party -- Someone who is a New Jersey party to a New Jersey Court Case. A New Jersey party is normally named in a New Jersey Court complaint or third party complaint and thereby becomes involved in the New Jersey Case. The New Jersey party can either be a New Jersey Court plaintiff, a New Jersey Court defendant, a New Jersey Court third party defendant or a New Jersey Court third party intervenor.

Pleading – a statement made by a New Jersey party that sets forth their factual and legal claims or that denies those claims.

Process server – a person who is authorized to “serve process” – to serve New Jersey court papers – on someone else. To be able to serve papers in a particular New Jersey Court Case, process servers must have no personal interest in that New Jersey Court Case.

Mistrial -- A New Jersey Court trial that a judge ends before the jury reaches a New Jersey Court verdict. There are many different possible reasons for a mistrial.

Opinion – The New Jersey court’s opinion explaining its decision in a New Jersey Case.

Petit Jury -- A group of people summoned to court and put under oath to hear evidence and decide a New Jersey Case by providing a New Jersey Court verdict.

The New Jersey Court plaintiff -- A New Jersey party that files a New Jersey Court complaint, whether it is the initial complaint or a New Jersey New Jersey Court Part third party complaint.

Pro se – The title given to a person who represents themselves in court.

Proof of service – A sworn written statement that a person (often a “process server”) successfully served legal documents upon someone else. The New Jersey court may require a person to file an affidavit of service to prove that a person was successfully served with New Jersey court papers. This term is essentially the same as “affidavit of service”.

Reconsideration – the process by which the New Jersey court reconsiders a prior ruling or decision it made, such as where: (1) the New Jersey court has expressed its decision based upon a palpably incorrect or irrational basis, or (2) it is obvious that the New Jersey court either did not consider or failed to appreciate the significance of probative, competent evidence. If a New Jersey party wishes to bring new or additional information to the New Jersey court’s attention which it could not have provided on its first application, the New Jersey court generally considers the new evidence in the interest of justice and in the exercise of sound discretion.

Regulation – A rule or directive issued by an administrative body that has the force of law. Compare the terms “common law” and “statute”.

Relevant evidence -- Evidence having a tendency in reason to prove or disprove any fact of consequence to the determination of the action.

Request for admissions – Written requests for a New Jersey party to admit or deny certain facts at issue in a New Jersey Case and that must be answered in a specific time frame. A New Jersey party’s failure to properly respond to the request could result in the facts being conclusively proven against the New Jersey party who were requested to answer the requests.

Request for production – Another name for a “notice to produce”. Written requests for a New Jersey party to provide access to or copies of documents or things that is normally served upon a New Jersey party during discovery and that must be answered in a specific time frame.

Settlement – A voluntary agreement between some or all parties to a lawsuit. A settlement can be written or oral and it can take place before, during or even after a New Jersey Court trial occurs.

Settlement conference – A meeting either held in the New Jersey courtroom or more often, in a Judge’s chambers at the New Jersey courthouse. The attorneys for the New Jersey parties are present in person or via telephone (if the New Jersey Court permits). The New Jersey parties themselves may or may not be required to be present or may be required to be available by telephone to provide any necessary authority to settle the New Jersey Case. The Judge attempts to resolve the New Jersey Case by suggesting a possible settlement to both parties as an alternative to a New Jersey Court trial. During the settlement conference, none of the New Jersey parties is required to settle the New Jersey Case and it is possible that none shall even make any settlement offers.

Small claims section – The Small Claims Section is a subpart of New Jersey New Jersey Court Part where civil disputes involving $3,000 or less or in the New Jersey Case of security deposit claims, $5,000 or less – may be heard. This article does not attempt to discuss small claims disputes.

New Jersey Court Part -- The New Jersey New Jersey Court Part is a subpart of the New Jersey court system where civil disputes involving a limited amount of money -- $15,000 or less – may be heard. The New Jersey New Jersey Court Part handles Cases such as the following: contract disputes, property damage disputes, such as car accidents where only property is damaged (and persons do not sustain serious personal injuries), bill collection disputes, landlord tenant and security deposit disputes and disputes between consumers and merchants involving unsatisfactory goods or services. The New Jersey Small Claims Section is a subpart of the New Jersey New Jersey Court Part where civil disputes involving $3,000 or less or in the New Jersey Case of security deposit claims, $5,000 or less – may be heard. This article does not attempt to discuss small claims disputes. The New Jersey Landlord Tenant Section is a subpart of the New Jersey New Jersey Court Part that handles many eviction disputes.

Statement -- (1) an oral or written assertion or (2) nonverbal conduct of a person if it is intended by the person as an assertion.

Statute – A law that a legislature enacts. Statutes may be federal laws (enacted by the United States Congress) or state (enacted by the New Jersey Legislature). Compare the terms “common law” and “regulation”.

Summary judgment -- A judgment entered against a New Jersey party before trial because there are no material facts in dispute sufficient to permit the New Jersey Case to proceed to trial. Normally, summary judgment motions are made and heard before trial. Such motions are a device to avoid trial by having the New Jersey court decide the New Jersey Case prior to trial on legal grounds.

Subpoena -- An official notice which is usually served by a process server and which requires someone to appear in court.

Summons – A legal document served on a person that directs a person to respond to a New Jersey Court complaint and warning that person of the possible consequences for failing to respond to the complaint.

Testify – When a witness offers testimony in court.

Testimony -- Statements that witnesses make in court.

Third party complaint – a lawsuit filed by someone other than the original the New Jersey Court plaintiff named in a New Jersey Case. If the New Jersey Court defendant has a valid legal or factual reason to include someone else as part in a New Jersey Case, the New Jersey Court defendant may file a New Jersey third party complaint.

Third party plaintiff – the New Jersey party suing a New Jersey party that was not named to the original complaint. A New Jersey Court third party plaintiff joins a new party to a civil action by filing a New Jersey Court third party complaint.

Third party defendant – a New Jersey party named as a New Jersey Court defendant in a New Jersey Court third party complaint.

Tort Case – a New Jersey Case involving a wrong or injury that results when someone breaches a legal duty owed to another -- a duty arising from society’s expectations of conduct by people and not from a contract.

Vacate – to remove. The term typically refers to the removal of a New Jersey Court default or New Jersey Court default judgment. To “vacate” a New Jersey Court default or New Jersey Court default judgment, parties usually file motions with the New Jersey Court.

Verdict – The New Jersey court decision issued following a New Jersey Court trial. A New Jersey Court verdict can either be issued by a jury, if the New Jersey Case is tried by a jury and a New Jersey Court verdict is issued based on the jury’s findings or by a judge, if the judge alone is deciding the New Jersey Case, such as in nonjury trials.

Vicinage – Literally “vicinity” or “neighborhood.” From Cumberland County to Bergen County, New Jersey’s Superior Courts are divided into 15 administrative districts. Since there are 21 counties in New Jersey, some vicinages include one or more counties, such as vicinage 15, which is comprised of Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester Counties.

Witness – A person that is placed under oath and that testifies in court. A witness may testify on paper (through an affidavit or certification filed with the New Jersey court) or in person at an arbitration, trial or other type of hearing.

Writing -- A "writing" consists of letters, words, numbers, data compilations, pictures, drawings, photographs, symbols, sounds, or combinations thereof or their equivalent, set down or recorded by handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, magnetic impulse, mechanical or electronic recording, or by any other means, and preserved in a perceptible form, and their duplicates as defined by Rule 1001(d).
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