Appellate Review: While Ct App Must Pay Some Deference to Trial Judge’s Feel of Case, This Doesn’t Include Deference to Remittitur Based on Observations Jury Also Had Opportunity to Make

Angeles v. Nieves, 2018 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1554, 2018 WL 3149551 (N.J. App. Div. June 28, 2018):

[Footnote 6] "[A]n appellate court must pay some deference to a trial judge's 'feel of the case' . . . because '[i]t is the judge who sees the jurors wince, weep, snicker, avert their eyes, or shake their heads in disbelief,' who may know 'whether the jury's verdict was motivated by improper influences,' and who may be privy to observations that could not have been made by the jury." Cuevas, 226 N.J. at 501-02 (citations omitted). Here, the trial court cited such factors, including plaintiff's interjection before the jury about his inability to afford healthcare. The court also cited plaintiff's apparent lack of pain and discomfort while testifying, but "[a] judge's 'feel of the case' based on observing a party or a witness in the courtroom is entitled to minimal weight if the jury had the same opportunity to make similar observations." Id. at 502 (citation omitted).

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