Judicial Deference in NJ?

In law school, one is taught that if two judges are of equal rank, the one cannot overrule the other on the same issues in the same case.  Yet the practice of law sometimes reveals contrary results.

In the case of Little, et al. v. KIA Motors, New Jersey’s appellate division was faced with the following fact pattern arising out of a class action consumer fraud case.  In brief (and out of respect the opinion talks about the “first trial judge” and the “second judge” without using names), in November 2008, the first judge issued various rulings (which are not essential to this blawg post) relevant to Kia’s request for post-trial relief.  In August 2011, the second judge overruled the first trial judge’s orders and issued new rulings that contradicted the first judge’s orders.  The instant appeal resulted.

The appellate division reversed the second judge and reiterated that “decisions of law made in a case should be respected by all other lower or equal courts during the pendency of that case.”  Good news for litigants and their insurers who count on finality in litigation.

For more information about this post, please contact Bob Cosgrove at rcosgrove@wcmlaw.com.