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Appellate Division Announces Online Access to Unpublished Opinions

Judge Edwin H. Stern, presiding judge for administration of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, today announced that with the approval of the Supreme Court, unpublished Appellate opinions will be available for the first time on the Judiciary's award-winning Web site, www.njcourtsonline.com. Unpublished opinions will be posted beginning tomorrow, Sept. 20.

"Posting unpublished opinions online will give equal access to attorneys, litigants, the media and the general public to a valuable source of legal research and citation subject to the requirements of Rule 1:36-3," said Judge Stern. "While unpublished opinions do not set precedent, they are extremely important to the parties in the case and to others who have an interest in the legal questions and particular cases before the court. By using the Internet, we can provide these opinions quickly, conveniently, efficiently and free of charge," he added.

"Unpublished" is a term used in the courts and the legal community to identify opinions that are not precedent-setting and therefore will not be published as case law in future legal publications. According to New Jersey Court Rule 1:36-3, "No unpublished opinion shall constitute precedent or be binding upon any court." The Rule further states, "No unpublished opinion shall be cited to any court by counsel unless the court and all other parties are served with a copy of the opinion and of all other relevant unpublished opinions known to counsel including those adverse to the position of the client."

Judge Philip S. Carchman, acting administrative director of the courts, praised the work of the Appellate Division. "This is a significant step forward in providing access to the work of our courts. I congratulate the judges and the Appellate clerk's office for making this improvement possible and thank them for their hard work and dedication."

Jeffrey Newman, acting clerk of the Appellate Division, has been overseeing the online project. "We have been working for some time to make the technical changes we needed in our system to provide this new level of access and customer service," Newman said.

The unpublished Appellate opinions are available by using the link on the Judiciary's Web site home page under "Legal Reference Desk." By clicking on "Supreme/Appellate Opinions," users will find Supreme Court and Appellate opinions issued during the current week and the previous week. Two weeks from the date of issue, Supreme Court and Appellate opinions are moved to the archive on the Rutgers Law School-Camden Web site. A link to the Rutgers archive is provided on the Judiciary's Web page.

For the convenience of Web site users, the Judiciary web team posts a list of upcoming opinions at 10 a.m. every business day. On the home page under "News and Notices," users can click on "Future Opinions and Agendas" to see what opinions are expected the next business day and to note which upcoming Appellate opinions will be published and which will be unpublished.

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