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Appellate Process / Pro Se Kit Introduction

This pro se kit is being sent to you in response to your recent request. It contains the following items:

  1. This cover letter
  2. Appellate Division Practice Checklist
  3. Instructions for filling out forms in the Appellate Division
  4. Notice of Appeal form
  5. Prescribed Transcript Request form
  6. Civil Case Information Statement form
  7. Criminal Case Information Statement form
  8. Notice of Motion form
  9. Certified Statement in Support of Motion for Leave to Proceed as an Indigent form.

The Appellate Division may not take any action in a case until it has obtained jurisdiction in the matter. With few exceptions, the Appellate Division does not have jurisdiction unless a notice of appeal or a motion for leave to appeal has been filed. Instructions for filing either a notice of appeal or a motion for leave to appeal can be found in the enclosed material and in the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey. Before you begin completing the enclosed forms, please carefully read this letter and the material enclosed. We suggest that when reviewing the Appellate Division Practice Checklist, you note especially the time limits for serving and filing documents and how these time limits apply to your case. While this pro se kit is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to practice and procedures in the Appellate Division, you should find the information and forms contained herein helpful in the preparation of the documents that you will need in order to proceed with an appeal.

You may want to consider obtaining the assistance of an attorney, since an appeal can be a complex legal proceeding. Even if you find that completing the enclosed forms is not a difficult task, you should be aware that the level of assistance that the Clerk's office has provided to you through these detailed instructions does not continue throughout the course of your appeal. The Clerk's office cannot assist you with the legal research that you will probably need before you can begin writing your appellate brief; nor assist you with assembling the documents that you will need for the appendix; nor assist you with drafting your procedural history, statement of facts, and legal arguments that will be required in your appellate brief.

The assistance of the Clerk's office, to attorneys and to pro se litigants alike, is limited to procedural matters, i.e., information concerning Appellate Division Court Rules and practice and procedure. This office cannot provide any assistance or legal advice as to the issues, arguments or merits of an appeal. If you cannot afford to pay for an attorney in a civil matter, you might be able to obtain legal assistance from the Legal Aid office in your county. If your appeal is from a criminal conviction after a trial or guilty plea in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, and you cannot afford an attorney, you should contact the Appellate Section of the Office of the Public Defender of the State of New Jersey at (973) 877-1200.

You may also make a motion for assignment of counsel, which is discussed below. Please be advised that Court Rule 1:21-1(c) provides that a business entity, other than a sole proprietor, cannot file any papers in the Appellate Division except through an attorney authorized to practice in New Jersey. A final judgment, order or decision is one which decides all issues as to all parties. In such instances, an appeal may be filed as of right by the filing of a notice of appeal and appropriate accompanying documents.

If, on the other hand, all issues as to all parties are not decided in the case and you wish to proceed with an appeal, you must request permission from the Appellate Division by way of a motion. This type of case is brought before the Appellate Division by filing a motion for leave to appeal and appropriate accompanying documents. These are known as interlocutory appeals. The distinction between appeals as of right from final judgments, orders and decisions and motions for leave to appeal from judgments, orders and decisions that are not final is discussed more fully in the Appellate Division Practice Checklist.

A $250.00 filing fee is required when filing a notice of appeal, and a $50.00 filing fee is required when filing a motion for leave to appeal. Once an appellant has paid the filing fee, there is no fee required for filing a motion while the appeal is open. Please note, however, that any motion made after a case is closed must be accompanied by a $50.00 filing fee. If an individual was granted indigency status in the trial court proceedings, that status can continue in the Appellate Division for the waiver of filing fees if a copy of the order is submitted along with "an affidavit stating that there has been no substantial change in the petitioner's financial circumstances since the date of the entry of the order granting such relief." Court Rule 2:7-4.

This indigency status would apply only to filing fees, unless the order specifically directs free transcripts on appeal to the Appellate Division. If an individual has not been granted indigency status and cannot afford the filing fees, a motion to proceed as an indigent should be submitted. There is no filing fee for this motion or any other motion accompanying this motion. All motions to proceed as an indigent should include an original and four copies of a notice of motion and the enclosed certified statement in support of the motion. Additionally, five copies of the trial court judgment or order or agency decision being appealed should be submitted.

In addition, if you are appealing a final judgment, order or decision, a deposit for transcripts in the amount of $300 for each day or fraction of a day of trial or hearing is to be paid, pursuant to Court Rule 2:5-3. This fee is paid to the court reporter who was present at the proceedings in question or, in the case of sound recorded proceedings, to the clerk of the court or agency in which those proceedings took place. If you cannot afford this deposit, a motion for free transcripts may be filed either in the trial court or in the Appellate Division. If filed in the trial court, a copy of the motion papers should be submitted with the appeal you are filing here. If the motion for free transcripts is filed in the Appellate Division, the motion must conform to Court Rule 2:8-1. While the Court's determination whether to grant free transcripts is distinct from its determination on a motion for leave to proceed as an indigent, a certification setting forth the individual's financial status, income and any property owned should likewise accompany any motion for free transcripts.

A motion for free transcripts should be served upon the party (or office) that may be required to pay for the transcript in question. In civil appeals, non-indictable or quasi-criminal appeals, this generally means the county counsel for the county out of which the matter arises must be served with the motion. In indictable criminal appeals, the Office of the Public Defender, Appellate Section, 31 Clinton Street, P.O. Box 46003, Newark, New Jersey 07101, should be served with the motion. If you desire representation by counsel in the appeal, you may make a motion for assignment of counsel, which may be submitted in conjunction with any or all of the above motions. Please be aware, however, that if the matter is civil in nature, the Court does not usually grant free transcripts or assignment of counsel.

Note too, that the motions discussed herein are filed pursuant to Court Rule 2:8-1, and should be filed simultaneously with your notice of appeal or motion for leave to appeal. In closing, although we have provided you with an Appellate Division Practice Checklist, please bear in mind that during the course of your appeal, it will very likely become necessary for you to consult the full text of the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey and the cases construing the Court Rules. Copies of the Court Rules are available in the State Library in Trenton, in the law libraries in the county courthouses, and at some county and municipal public libraries throughout the State. If, after consulting the materials provided in this pro se kit and the Court Rules, you still have questions concerning Appellate Division practice and procedure, you may contact this office for assistance.

Joseph H. Orlando, Clerk, Appellate Court

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