It is axiomatic that the transcript of the proceedings below plays an instrumental role in an appeal. As the Supreme Court explained in In re Guardianship of Dotson, 72 N.J. 112, 116-17 (1976), “ordinarily the transcript is an integral part of the record on appeal. … It gives the reviewing court a basis for a complete and proper analysis of all the issues before it. It also provides the appellate advocate with a firm foundation for his arguments that trial error occurred or that the cause of justice is better served under the facts of the case by a change in the law.” Under the governing New Jersey Court Rules, the appellant, with certain limited exceptions, has the obligation to request the transcript in a form provided by the Administrative Director of the Courts and ensure that it is provided to the Appellate Division. In Cable v. Rodig, No. A-0079-10 (App. Div. Aug. 8, 2011), the Appellate Division explained that because the plaintiff “failed to provide us with transcripts necessary to evaluate his appellate contentions,” it had to affirm the trial court’s orders denying the plaintiff’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict/new trial and motion for attorneys’ fees.
The plaintiff asserted breach of contract, misrepresentation, and Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”) claims against the defendant. The case was tried over five days to a jury in April 2010. After determining that the defendant committed certain per se CFA violations, the trial court submitted the remaining claims to the jury. The jury found that the plaintiff had not suffered an ascertainable loss from the CFA violations, and it also rejected his misrepresentation and contract claims. The plaintiff filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial, as well as for attorneys’ fees relating to the CFA violations. The trial court denied those motions. On appeal, the plaintiff provided the Appellate Division with only counsels’ summations at trial and the transcript of the argument on his post-trial motions.
The Appellate Division stated that the plaintiff did not comply with the governing Court Rules that required him to provide a complete transcript. Because of that failure, the court was unable to “place in context the documentary exhibits we have been given,” “verify the factual allegations made by the parties’ in their briefs,” or “assess the merits of [plaintiff’s] claims of error.” Therefore, the Appellate Division had no choice but “to affirm on the ground that [plaintiff] has failed to establish error warranting relief.”