Joseph M. Cerra, Of Counsel to the firm, is an appellate specialist with a focus on the representation of severely injured plaintiffs on appeals, in addition to his practice of providing appellate counsel to commercial parties, fiduciaries such as bankruptcy trustees, and other parties seeking to defend or reverse significant verdicts through the appellate process. Because of his extensive knowledge of appellate practice, Joe is frequently retained by law firms to provide counsel and assistance at the trial level so that critical issues are properly preserved for appellate review.
Joe has been an AV-rated attorney since 2002 and has been named a Super Lawyer in the field of Appellate Practice every year since 2008 – one of only a handful attorneys, usually under 10, who attain this distinction in New Jersey in any given year. He is graduate of Fordham College at Rose Hill and the Fordham University School of Law, where he served on the Editorial Board of the Fordham International Law Journal. Upon graduation, Joe served a clerkship with the Honorable James H. Coleman, Jr., a Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division who was subsequently named to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Joe began his legal career at Shanley & Fisher, P.C., now known as Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP, where he practiced commercial litigation for eight years before becoming a member of Forman Holt & Eliades LLC, where spent 20 years. He was also practiced commercial litigation at LeClairRyan, PLLC and K&L Gates LLP, before initiating his exclusive focus in appellate work in November 2018.
Joe served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Seton Hall University School of Law from 1997 through 2017, where he implemented and taught in class focusing in persuasive legal drafting. Before “retiring” from trial practice in 2014, Joe tried many cases to verdict in both the states and federal courts. Joe’s extensive experience as a trial attorney enhances his ability to counsel trial attorneys on how to avoid momentary trial lapses that could compromise a party’s right to pursue an issue on appeal.
While Joe studied law at Fordham, he also worked part-time as a sportswriter at the Elizabeth Daily Journal, where he received a number of awards for his writing. Working the track beat, he interviewed, and wrote articles about, many of the best track and field athletes in the world, including Carl Lewis, Eammon Coghlan, Edwin Moses, Renaldo “Skeets” Nehemiah, and Greg Foster. He covered the Seton Hall basketball team that eventually made the 1989 NCAA Tournament Finals. Joe remains a devoted follower of Fordham athletics, the New York Yankees, the New York Giants, and the New York Knicks – as well as the basketball team of his old high school, Roselle Catholic.
- Too Hot to Cybersquat: How Franchisors Can Use The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Franchise Law Journal (Spring 2012)
- Employment Practice Liability Insurance Policies: A New Cost of Doing Business. Mealey’s Emerging Insurance Battles. (Mealey’s Publications Feb. 1997)
- Criminal Enforcement Under the OSH Act: A Belated Rush to be King of the Hill, (White Collar Criminal Reporter, Vol. 5, No. 6, June 1991)
Published Decisions (Representative)
Federal Court Decisions
- V.E.C. Corp. v. Hilliard, 896 F. Supp. 2d 253 (S.D.N.Y. 2012)
- In re Gharbi, 2011 WL 831706 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. Mar. 3, 2011), aff’d, 2011 WL 2181197 (W.D. Tex. June 3, 2011)
- A&P Diversified Technologies Realty, Inc., 467 F.3d 337 (3rd Cir. 2006)
- Schrier Brothers v. Golub and Hudson United Bank, 123 Fed.Appx. 484, 2005 WL 280733, 56 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 317 (3rd Cir. 2005)
- Readco, Inc., et al. v. Marine Midland Bank, N.A., 81 F.3d 295 (2d Cir. 1996)
- United States of America v. Hundley, 858 F.2d 58 (2d Cir. 1988)
- Century 21 Real Estate LLC v. Gharbi, 54 Bankr.Ct.Dec. 119, 2011 Bankr. LEXIS 864 (Bankr.W.D.Tex 2011), affirmed, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59923 (W.D.Tex. 2011)
- In re Burns & Roe Enterprises, Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13574 (D.N.J. February 20, 2009)
- Carlos Cuevas, as Trustee for the Estate of M. Silverman Laces, Inc. v. Hudson United Bank, 2002 WL 31412465 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)
- In re Hilsen, 2008 WL 2945996 (Bankr.S.D.N.Y. July 25, 2008)
- In re Halpert & Company, Inc., 254 B.R. 104 (Bankr.D.N.J. 1999)
- In re Nugent, 254 B.R. 14 (Bankr.D.N.J. 1998)
State Court Decisions
- Motorworld, Inc. v. Benkendorf, 228 N.J. 311 (2017)
- Triffin v. TD Banknorth, N.A., 190 N.J. 326, 920 A.2d 649 (N.J.S.Ct. 2007)
- Tufaro v. Schindler Elevator Corp., 2013 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 536 (N.J. App. Div. 2013)
- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Marcal Paper Mills, et al, 2008 WL 183290 (N.J. App. Div. January 23, 2008)
- All Modes Transport, Inc. v. Hecksteden, 389 N.J.Super. 462, 913 A.2d 814 (N.J.App. Div. 2006)
- Jiminez v. GNOC Corp., Westinghouse Electric Corp., et al., 286 N.J.Super. 533, 670 A.2d 24 (N.J.App.Div. 1996)
Speaking Engagements (Representative)
- Lecturer, “Legal Challenges of the Small Business Owner,” Rutgers University Business School, Newark, N.J., November 19, 2016
- Lecturer, “Legal Challenges of the Small Business Owner,” Rutgers University Business School, Newark, N.J., November 11, 2015
- Panelist, “Law and Business: Career Options,” Rutgers University Business School, Newark, N.J., November 6, 2013
- Panel Moderator, “Sports and Business: Lessons of Excellence,” Rutgers University Business School, Newark, N.J., November 7, 2012 (Panelists included US Olympians, including Maya Lawrence, a bronze medal winner in fencing at the 2012 Olympics)
- Panelist, “Positive Leadership,” Rutgers University Business School, Newark, N.J., September 24, 2011 (with Carl Lewis and Ann Donovan).
- Panel Moderator, “The World Is Changing: Business, Finance, and Life,” Rubin Museum of Art, New York City, March 24, 2011 (sponsored by the Rutgers University Graduate School of Business Administration)
- Panelist, “Managing for Performance: Lessons for Business,” Rutgers Business School, July 7, 2010
- Panelist, “Investing in Real Estate,” Rutgers University Graduate School of Business Administration, June 29, 2010
- Panelist, “Managing A Business In Troubled Times,” Rutgers University Graduate School of Business Administration, October 29, 2009 and July 1, 2009
- Moderator, “Individual Chapter 11 Cases,” 11th Annual Hon. William H. Gindin Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference, April 17, 2009