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New Jersey District Court Assoc. Inc. v. New Jersey Supreme Court

June 5, 1985

NEW JERSEY DISTRICT COURT ASSOC., INC., JACK SPAETH, SR., JACK SPAETH, JR., R. EUGENE GLAB, SHARON L. CHERNIN, AND WAYNE VANDERHOOF, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT AND ROBERT D. LIPSCHER, ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR OF THE COURTS, DEFENDANTS



N.J. District Ct. Assoc., Inc., et als N.J. Supreme Ct Et Al.

Ciolino, A.j.s.c.

Ciolino

On April 19, 1985, plaintiffs commenced this action by filing an order to show cause and verified complaint seeking to enjoin the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts from implementing service of process by mail in the Special Civil Part in accordance with orders of the Supreme Court dated January 4, 1985, and February 20, 1985. Following oral argument, the court signed the order to show cause, but denied injunctive relief. Plaintiffs' appeal of that denial was likewise rejected by the Appellate Division on April 22, 1985. The plaintiffs challenge the service by mail program alleging that it exceeds the Supreme Court's rule-making powers and violates both state and federal constitutional guarantees of due process.

On the return day of the order to show cause, defendants moved for summary judgment alleging that the issues presented are legal in nature and that no genuine issue of material fact exists.

[I]t is the movant's burden to exclude any reasonable doubt as to the existence of any genuine issue of material fact . . . All inferences of doubt are drawn against the movant in favor of the opponent of the motion. The papers supporting the motion are closely scrutinized and the opposing papers indulgently treated . . .

[I]f the opposing party offers no affidavits or material in opposition, or only facts which are immaterial or of insubstantial nature, a mere scintilla [citations omitted] he will not be heard to complain if the court grants summary judgment, taking as true the statement of uncontradicted facts in the papers relied upon by the moving party, such papers themselves not otherwise showing the existence of an issue of material fact.

Judson v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co. of Westfield, 17 N.J. 67, 74-75 (1954).

The Court agrees with the defendants' position that the questions presented herein are inherently legal. When certain

facts are necessary to support a legal conclusion they are uncontroverted. This case is, therefore, ripe for summary judgment.

I. SUPREME COURT'S POWER TO REGULATE SERVICE OF PROCESS

Article VI, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the New Jersey Constitution (1947), granting plenary power to the Supreme Court to administer the courts by fashioning rules of practice and procedure, provides:

3. Supreme Court, rules; admission to practice of law; discipline of persons admitted.

The Supreme Court shall make rules governing the administration of all courts in the State and, subject to the law, the practice and procedure in all such courts. The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction over the admission to the practice of law and the discipline of persons admitted.

N.J. Const. art. VI, ยง 2, par. 3.

Relative to the Supreme Court's service by mail orders, this constitutional provision raises three questions. First, what are the parameters of this constitutional grant? Second, does service by mail come within the Court's rule-making province? Third, if there is a conflict between this constitutional provision ...


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