It used to be that unless a motion had to do with discovery or was a motion for reconsideration, requests for oral arguments of motions were typically granted, without exception.  In fact, if a discovery motion was complex, many judges would grant oral argument.  The same is true about motions for reconsideration.

There has been a recent trend, however, in one of the northern counties in which I practice, where most of the judges deny requests for oral argument, most of the time.  Typically, the statement of reasons in the Order will state that the court did not feel that "significant substantive issues" were raised. 

There has been several recent unreported Appellate Division cases reversing and remanding decisions, in large part because oral argument was not granted.  The most recent was released today.  To see the entire case, click here.  In this case, at issue was whether limited duration alimony should be increased and extended due to special needs associated with one of the parties’ children.  Another recent case, coming out of the same county, was reversed because oral argument was denied despite the fact that significant parenting time issues were raised.

In today’s case, the motion judge denied oral argument claiming that it is mostly for the benefit of the judge.  The Appellate Division disagreed and reiterated prior decisional law holding that denial of  argument "… deprives litigants of an opportunity to present their case fully to a court. Denial
of such a right, given the issues in dispute, was an abuse of discretion and was violative of both the letter and spirit of …:"  the Rules of Court. 

Hopefully, if enough of these reversals come down, the practices will change and Courts will again allow oral argument when it is requested.