Civil Court Rules and Jury Charges

Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C.
2053 Woodbridge Avenue - Edison, NJ 08817

Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Law Requires Palimony Agreements to be in Writing.

This law is intended to overturn recent "palimony" decisions by New Jersey courts by requiring that any such contract must be in writing and signed by the person making the promise. More specifically, the law provides that a promise by one party to a non-marital personal relationship to provide support or other consideration for the other party, either during the course of such relationship or after its termination, is not binding unless it is in writing and signed. The law provides that no such written promise is binding unless it was made with the independent advice of counsel for both parties.
In two recent cases, Devaney v. L'Esperance, 195 N.J. 247 (2008) and In re Estate of Roccamonte, 174 N.J. 381 (2002), the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld palimony agreements between two unmarried cohabitants. In the Devaney case the court held that "cohabitation is not an essential requirement for a cause of action for palimony, but a marital-type relationship is required." In the Roccamonte case, the court held that an implied promise of support for life is enforceable against the promisor's (cohabitant's) estate. Those decisions are consistent with the court's prior decision in Kozlowski v. Kozlowski, 80 N.J. 378 (1979), which had held that a promise of lifetime support by one cohabitant to another in a marital-like relationship would be enforced, if one of the partners was induced to cohabit by the promise. The court held that the right to such support is found in contract principles and that the contract may be either express or implied.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

NJAC 1:1-14.1 Public hearings; records as public; sealing a record; media coverage

NJAC 1:1-14.1 Public hearings; records as public; sealing a record; media coverage

(a) All evidentiary hearings, proceedings on motions and other applications shall be conducted as public hearings unless otherwise provided by statute, rule or regulation, or on order of a judge for good cause shown. Prehearing conferences and informal discussions immediately preceding the hearing or during the hearing to facilitate the orderly and expeditious conduct of the case may, at the judge's discretion, be conducted in public or in closed session and may or may not be recorded. Mediations and settlement conferences shall be held in closed session but may be recorded. All other proceedings in the presence of a judge shall be recorded verbatim either by a stenographic reporter or by sound recording devices. All discussions off the record, no matter how brief, except settlement discussions and mediations, shall be summarized generally for the record. The record of all hearings shall be open to public inspection, but the judge may, for good cause shown, order the sealing of the record or any part thereof.

(b) In considering whether to close a hearing and/or seal a record, the judge shall consider the requirements of due process of law, other constitutional and statutory standards and matters of public policy. The judge shall consider the need to protect against unwarranted disclosure of sensitive financial information or trade secrets, to protect parties or witnesses from undue embarrassment or deprivations of privacy, or to promote or protect other equally important rights or interests.

(c) When sealing a record, the judge must specify the consequences of such an order to all material in the case file including any evidence, the stenographic notes or audiotapes and the initial decision. The treatment of testimony or exhibits shall be on such terms as are appropriate to balance public and private rights or interests and to preserve the record for purposes of review. The judge shall also indicate what safeguards shall be imposed upon the preparation and disclosure of any transcript of the proceedings.

(d) All public hearings may be filmed, photographed and recorded, subject to reasonable restrictions established by the judge to avoid disruption of the hearing process. The number of cameras and lights in the hearing room at any one time may be limited. Technical crews and equipment may be prohibited from moving except during recesses and after the proceedings are concluded for the day. To protect the attorney/client privilege and the effective right to counsel, there shall be no recording of conferences between attorneys and their clients or between counsel and the judge at the bench.


Amended by R.1988 d.115, effective March 21, 1988.

See: 20 New Jersey Register 127(a), 20 New Jersey Register 642(a).

Added text to (d) "and the effective right to counsel".

Chapter Notes

NJAC 1:1-1.1 Applicability; scope; special hearing rules

NJAC 1:1-1.1 Applicability; scope; special hearing rules

(a) Subject to any superseding Federal or State law, this chapter shall govern the procedural aspects pertaining to transmission, the conduct of the hearing and the rendering of the initial and final decisions in all contested cases in the Executive Branch of the State Government. N.J.S.A. 52:14F-5. This chapter governs the procedure whether the contested case is before the Office of Administrative Law, an agency head or any other administrative agency. Subchapter 21 governs the conduct of certain uncontested cases handled by the Office of Administrative Law under N.J.S.A. 52:14F-5(o).

(b) In the event of conflict between this chapter and any other agency rule, except agency rules which incorporate statutory requirements, this chapter shall prevail.

(c) No agency other than the Office of Administrative Law may hereafter propose any rules to regulate the conduct of contested cases and the rendering of administrative adjudications. N.J.S.A. 52:14F-5(e). Specific pleading and other pre-transmittal requirements may be regulated by the agencies provided they are consistent with this chapter.

(d) In addition to those rules that specifically govern a transmitting agency's responsibilities and the jurisdiction of the Office of Administrative Law, the following Uniform Administrative Procedure rules are not intended to apply to contested cases heard in agencies exempt under N.J.S.A. 52:14F-8:

1. 1:1-11.1(c) (Subpoena forms);

2. 1:1-12.6 (Emergency relief);

3. 1:1-14.10 (Interlocutory review);

4. 1:1-16.2(b) and (c) (Time of motion to intervene);

5. 1:1-18.8 (Extensions of time limits for decisions and exceptions); and

6. 1:1-21 (Uncontested cases).

(e) This chapter is subject to special hearing rules applicable to particular agencies. Such rules may be adopted by the Office of Administrative Law after consultation with a transmitting agency or at the request of a transmitting agency when the transmitted cases involve unique hearing requirements that are not addressed by this chapter. Where required by Federal law, special hearing rules may be promulgated by a transmitting agency with the concurrence of the Office of Administrative Law.


Amended by R.2007 d.393, effective December 17, 2007.

See: 39 N.J.R. 2393(a), 39 N.J.R. 5201(a).

In (b), deleted the last sentence.


Women-owned and minority-owned businesses, false information supplied, contested case hearing as under this subchapter, see 12A:11-1.9.

Chapter Notes