What are motions?

A motion is a request that the court enter an order. The types of motions that may be filed are limited only by the creativity of counsel, though certain kinds of motions are expressly authorized by Court Rules. Many of these motions have been mentioned in other sections of this book, E.g., R. 4:6-2 (motions to dismiss complaint); R. 4:6-4(a) 9motion for more definite statement); R. 4:23-1(a) (motion to compel discovery). Discovery motions were discussed in Chapter IV.

GENERAL RULES

Any pretrial motion should be brought by the way of written notice of motion. R. 1:6-2(a) As its name implies, a notice of motion gives notice to the court and other parties and counsel of the fact that your client is filing and serving a motion. R. 1:6-2(a) requires that the notice of motion state the time and place when the motion is to be presented to the court, the grounds on which it is made, and the nature of the relief that is being sought. For the ease of persons receiving the notice of motion, the title of that paper should identify the type of motion being filed and the party filing it (for example, “Plaintiff’s Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment”; “Defendant John Doe’s Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories”) rather than simply being titled “Notice of Motion.” See R. 1:4-1(a)(1). Moreover, a notice of motion must state whether oral argument is requested or is being waived. You may reserve the right to request oral arguments until after you see your opponent’s response.

Motions are heard on fixed days, normally every other Friday in most courts. The New Jersey Lawyers’ Diary, the New Jersey Law Journal, and the New Jersey Lawyer newspaper publish lists of scheduled motion return dates. You should consult those lists to determine when a motion may be heard in a particular court, since some courts have different motion hearing schedules. If your notice of motion purports to schedule a motion for consideration on a date that is not designated for motions, the court will normally unilaterally reschedule the motion for the next scheduled motion day. You can avoid inconvenience, or even embarrassment, by ensuring that notices of motion list a recognized motion day as the return date for any motion.

A party filing a notice of motion must also submit a proposed form of order. R. 1:6-2(a). The proposed form of order should contain the exact wording for the relief that the movant wishes the court to order. R. 4:42-1(a) contains the formal requirements for an order. You should always ensure that any proposed order submitted to a court conforms to those provisions. When submitting an order or proposed order, you must always include a self-addressed stamped envelope for the court’s use in returning a copy of the entered order stamped “filed” to the attorney. R. 4:42-1(e). This is not only a requirement of the Court Rules but, as a practical matter, it is a cost-saving measure for the court, which shifts the cost of mailing entered orders to the parties. Some judges will not mail an entered order to counsel without a self-addressed stamped envelope.

In the Chancery Division, or in the Law Division where a particular judge is assigned to all motions in the case, as will be so under “Best Practices” for all cases filed after September 5, 2000, R. 4:5B-1, 4:5B-4, the originals of the notice of motion and any affidavits or certifications are to be filed with the Motions Clerk of the county, and the original brief, an original and two copies of the proposed form of order, and copies of the notice of motion and any affidavits or certifications are to be filed with the judge. In those Law Division actions that predate “Best Practices” in which a particular judge has not been assigned to the case for all purposes, all of the original papers should be filed with the Motions Clerk. The Clerk will then assign the motion to a judge and transmit the papers to that judge’s chambers.

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