It is not uncommon for a litigant to be dissatisfied with a court’s order. Even if you think you have a solid case, there is no guarantee that the court will see things your way. Additionally, judges do not always get it right. When a court makes a legal error, the typical way to address that error is to file an appeal. But a case has to be decided with finality on all issues to get to the Appellate Division as of right, without having to ask for permission to appeal, which is difficult to get. If a judge makes a legal or factual error, however, during a case then a motion for reconsideration may be the appropriate course of action. This motion allows a litigant to show the judge him/herself what legal error the judge has made, point out any important facts that the judge failed to appreciate or consider before before, or to bring previously unavailable evidence to the court’s attention. Reconsideration “is a matter within the sound discretion of the Court, to be exercised in the interest of justice.” D’Atria v. D’Atria, 242 N.J. Super. 392, 401 (Ch. Div. 1990)) While it can be difficult to convince a judge to change a decision, the New Jersey Rules of Court allow litigants an opportunity to rectify bad orders.
Rule 4:49-2, which addresses a motion to alter or amend a Judgment or Order, states the following:
“. . . [A] motion for rehearing or reconsideration seeking to alter or amend a judgment or order shall be served not later than 20 days after service of the judgment or order upon all parties by the party obtaining it. The motion shall state with specificity the basis on which it is made, including a statement of the matters or controlling decisions which counsel believes the court has overlooked or as to which it has erred, and shall have annexed thereto a copy of the judgment or order sought to be reconsidered and a copy of the court’s corresponding written opinion, if any.”