The Sole Recourse Of Parties In A Probate Lawsuit Who Disagree With The Final Judgment Is To Appeal

Plaintiff, Oliver V. Short III, filed an eight-count, seventy-nine-page complaint and order to show cause seeking to compel the Presiding Judge of the Probate Part, Chancery Division, Union County, to issue a final order in his deceased mother’s probate lawsuit. Plaintiff alleged that the Union County Chancery judge issued a final judgment on December 31, 2018 in error as the judgment failed to fulfill his mother’s expressed intent for the disposition of her property and improperly awarded attorney fees.

Plaintiff did not, however, file a timely appeal from the Chancery Division’s 2018 judgment.

Venue was transferred to Middlesex County in view of the allegations against the Union County judge. Following a hearing, the Middlesex County judge denied plaintiff’s application and dismissed his complaint with prejudice.  The court concluded that plaintiff’s claims against the Presiding Judge in Union County were barred under the doctrine of judicial immunity, and plaintiff’s sole remedy laid in an appeal from the December 31, 2018 Chancery Division judgment.

Dissatisfied with the Middlesex County judge’s decision, plaintiff sought reconsideration. In response, the court denied plaintiff’s application for reconsideration. The court held that there was “nothing in [plaintiff]’s most recent submission that persuades this court that it has erred or overlooked controlling decisions or mischaracterized the nature of [plaintiff]’s litigation.” The court “reiterated that plaintiff’s “sole recourse w[as] to file an appeal” from the final judgment in the probate matter.”

Plaintiff filed an appeal to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. On appeal, plaintiff contended that his complaint was appropriate and needed to resolve the underlying probate lawsuit, and that the trial court erred in concluding that his complaint was barred by judicial immunity.

The appeals court found that plaintiff’s arguments lacked sufficient merit to warrant written discussion and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint. The appeals court agreed with the trial court’s ruling that plaintiff’s complaint was an inappropriate remedy to address plaintiff’s disagreement or dissatisfaction with the chancery court judge’s ruling in the underlying probate matter, and that plaintiff’s sole recourse was to file an appeal from the probate judgment. The appellate court also held that plaintiff’s claims against the Chancery Division presiding judge were barred under the doctrine of judicial immunity.

The case is attached here – [gview file=””]

For additional information concerning nursing home law and litigation, visit:

Nursing Home Law and Litigation


For additional information concerning probate litigation and will contests, visit:

NJ Will Contests and Probate Litigation