(a) A party may move for summary decision upon all or any of the substantive issues in a contested case. Such motion must be filed no later than 30 days prior to the first scheduled hearing date or by such date as ordered by the judge.
(b) The motion for summary decision shall be served with briefs and with or without supporting affidavits. The decision sought may be rendered if the papers and discovery which have been filed, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and that the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. When a motion for summary decision is made and supported, an adverse party in order to prevail must by responding affidavit set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue which can only be determined in an evidentiary proceeding. Such response must be filed within 20 days of service of the motion. A reply, if any, must be filed no later than 10 days thereafter. If the adverse party does not so respond, a summary decision, if appropriate, shall be entered.
(c) Motions for summary decision shall be decided within 45 days from the due date of the last permitted responsive filing. Any motion for summary decision not decided by an agency head which fully disposes of the case shall be treated as an initial decision under N.J.A.C. 1:1-18. Any partial summary decision shall be treated as required by (e) and (f) below.
(d) If, on motion under this section, a decision is not rendered upon all the substantive issues in the contested case and a hearing is necessary, the judge at the time of ruling on the motion, by examining the papers on file in the case as well as the motion papers, and by interrogating counsel, if necessary, shall, if practicable, ascertain what material facts exist without substantial controversy and shall thereupon enter an order specifying those facts and directing such further proceedings in the contested case as are appropriate. At the hearing in the contested case, the facts so specified shall be deemed established.
(e) A partial summary decision order shall by its terms not be effective until a final agency decision has been rendered on the issue, either upon interlocutory review pursuant to N.J.A.C. 1:1-14.10 or at the end of the contested case, pursuant toN.J.A.C. 1:1-18.6. However, at the discretion of the judge, for the purpose of avoiding unnecessary litigation or expense by the parties, the order may be submitted to the agency head for immediate review as an initial decision, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 1:1-18.3(c)12. If the agency head concludes that immediate review of the order will not avoid unnecessary litigation or expense, the agency head may return the matter to the judge and indicate that the order will be reviewed at the end of the contested case. Within 10 days after a partial summary decision order is filed with the agency head, the Clerk shall certify a copy of pertinent portions of the record to the agency head.
(f) Review by the agency head of any partial summary decision shall not cause delay in scheduling hearing dates or result in a postponement of any scheduled hearing dates unless the judge assigned to the case orders that a postponement is necessary because of special requirements, possible prejudice, unproductive effort or other good cause.