Two procedural provisions, Rule 2:5-1(b) and Rule 2:6-1(a)(1)(I), were the focus of Raspavolo v. New Jersey State Police, No. A-3099-09 (App. Div. (Orig.) July 20, 2011, (Amended) Sept. 20, 2011). After a party files a notice of appeal with the Appellate Division, Rule 2:5-1(b) allows the trial court to “file and mail to the parties an amplification of a prior statement, opinion or memorandum made either in writing or orally pursuant to R. 1:2-2.” In essence, the provision provides the trial court with the opportunity to correct or supplement a prior opinion that will be the focus of the appeal. Rule 2:6-1(a)(1)(I) requires the appellant to provide the Appellate Division with all parts of the record that are “essential to the proper consideration of the issues[.]” In Raspavolo, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s ruling that upheld an earlier dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint because the plaintiff did not provide the Appellate Division with the trial court’s Rule 2:5-1(b) supplementary ruling.
In a January 22, 2010, order, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion to vacate a prior order that dismissed his complaint. On July 20, 2011, the Appellate Division reversed that ruling because the record presented to it was “devoid of any decision or statement reasons by the motion judge in support of the January 22, 2010 order.” The Appellate Division reversed so that the plaintiff would have the opportunity to have the trial court consider his arguments on the merits.
One week later the trial judge wrote to the Appellate Division to inform it that on March 12, 2010, he had orally supplemented his January 22, 2010, order and provided supplementary findings of fact and conclusions of law. However, the Appellate Division was never provided with that supplementary ruling.
After stressing that it is the appellant’s obligation to provide it with the complete record, the Appellate Division stated that “plaintiff’s failure to provide us with the judge’s supplemental statement of reasons constitutes a deficiency ‘which renders review impossible[.]’” Because it did not have the trial court’s supplementary ruling, the Appellate Division had “no basis for determining” that the lower court erred in denying the plaintiff’s motion to vacate. Accordingly, because the plaintiff failed to provide the complete record on appeal, the Appellate Division superseded its prior opinion and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.