• Appellate Jurisdiction,  Trade Secrets,  Waiver of Issues

    Manufacturing appellate jurisdiction over a discovery ruling

    When I read Brescia v. Angelin, case no. B204003 (2d Dist. Mar. 17, 2009), I was reminded about how Saturday Night Live once ran one a commercial parody for a product with the advertising slogan “It’s a dessert topping! It’s a floor wax!  It’s two products in one!” How do I make that connection? Because when I was done reading the case, I thought, “It’s a dismissal after sustaining a demurrer! It’s a discovery ruling! It’s two rulings in one!” And so did the court of appeal, though it didn’t say it in so many words. Brescia cross-complained against respondents for trade secret misappropriation.  Code of Civil Procedure section 2019.210 requires a…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Stays & Supersedeas

    A Published Supersedeas Case. Really!

    From my lips to the Court of Appeal’s ears . . . or maybe from my keyboard to the Court of Appeal’s monitors . . . barely a week after I lamented how old most of the published case law is regarding supersedeas and other stays on appeal, along comes Veyna v. Orange County Nursery, Inc., case no. G041305 (4th Dist. Jan. 15, 2009), a published decision denying a petition for writ of supersedeas.  Published opinions on this topic rarely come along, so we might as well grab all the gusto we can from it.  First, a synopsis of the facts, then a couple of lessons to take away from…

  • Stare Decisis

    “There is no exception for Supreme Court cases of ancient vintage.”

    That’s from Mehr v. Superior Court (1983) 139 Cal.App.3d 1044, 1049 fn. 3, regarding the doctrine of stare decisis.  It’s a handy quote to keep in your arsenal for those occasions when you have to cite very old cases.  I can remember legal research and writing instructors pounding into our heads that we should always use newer cases, where available.  Thus, while I’ve never seen anyone try to discount a case based on its age alone, there’s that uneasy feeling any time I find it necessary to cite an old case that the adverse party will try to do just that. A smart lawyer, of course, would not rely on…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  Notice of Appeal,  Statutory Construction

    Who Says CRC 8.108(f)(1) is for Cross-Appeals Only?

    Certainly not Division Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal.  In The Termo Co. v. Luther, case no. G038435 (Dec. 17, 2008), the court holds that the rule of court allowing the 20-day window for “any other party to appeal from the same judgment or order,” triggered by the clerk’s mailing of the notice of the filing of an appeal, means just what it says, notwithstanding its “Cross-appeal” heading. Termo and Angus Development Corporation were co-petitioners in the administrative writ proceedings.  The trial court denied the writ.  Termo filed its notice of appeal from the judgment on the 59th day following service of notice of entry of judgment —…

  • Judges,  Mandamus/Prohibition,  Stays & Supersedeas

    Got a stay? Challenge the judge anyway!

    Under Code of Civil Procedure 170.3, subdivision (c), a party may apply to disqualify the trial judge for cause, but must submit the statement of objection “at the earliest practicable opportunity after discovery of the facts constituting the ground for disqualification.”  In Tri Counties Bank v. Superior Court (Amaya-Guenon), case no. F055084 (5th Dist. Oct. 28, 2008), Tri Counties tried to convince the court of appeal that its seven-month delay met the “earliest practical opportunity standard” under the circumstances of the case.  No dice.  And in rejecting that contention, the court of appeal makes an interesting exception to a stay of proceedings in the trial court. Tri Counties asserted that the the judge…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Notice of Appeal

    There’s No “E” Before “Mails” When it Comes to Triggering the Deadline to Appeal

    Modern communication and the California Rules of Court collide in Citizens for Civic Accountability v. Town of Danville, case no. A121899 (1st Dist. Oct. 27, 2008), and the winner is . . . the rules! At issue: whether the e-mailing of a notice that a judgment has been filed, with a link to access a copy of the judgment, triggers the deadline to appeal under rule 8.104(a), California Rules of Court, which provides that a 60-day deadline to appeal is triggered when the clerk “mails” a notice of entry of judgment or a file-stamped copy of the judgment. The trial court designated the case complex litigation and ordered compliance with the…

  • Judgment,  Waiver of Issues

    The Judgment, the Whole Judgment, and Nothing But the Judgment

    Sometimes, a judgment is a mixed bag. That’s how all the parties must have viewed the judgment in Satchmed Plaza Owners Assn. v. UWMC Hospital Corp., case no. G038119 (4th Dist. Oct. 23, 2008). The judgment enforced Satchmed’s right of first refusal with respect to 22 owned medical office units by requiring UWMC to offer them to Satchmed at a certain price. But the judgment did not require such an offer on 12 other units, which were leased. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the judgment stated that there was no prevailing party. Mixed bags create competing incentives. Here, one incentive got the best of Satchmed. UWMC complied with the judgment by offering the…

  • Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  Judgment,  Standard of Review

    What does “abuse of discretion” mean in your case?

    Sometimes, it seems that defining an “abuse of discretion” is like nailing jello to the wall (maybe worse, since the latter is difficult, but not impossible).  There are many nuances to the standard, which can depend on the statute being applied, the basis for the abuse of discretion, and the particular procedural posture of the case.  The last of these variables is what helps the appellant overcome this highly deferential standard of review and have the default judgment against it lifted in Fasuyi v. Permatetex, Inc. case no. A117760 (1st Dist. Oct. 15, 2008).  Permatex made a motion under Code of Civil Procedure section 473 to vacate the default judgment against…

  • Appellate Procedure

    Procedural Exits off the Appellate Freeway

    A year or so ago, I heard a California appellate court justice advise that the court of appeal examines every case for issues that will allow the court to dispose of the case without reaching the merits. He explained the process with a metaphor, which I’ll try to convey in this post (paraphrasing throughout). “Envision an appeal as the freeway between Fresno and Los Angeles, with Fresno being the filing of the notice of appeal and Los Angeles being a decision on the merits,” he said. “Now, think of each exit on that stretch of freeway as an opportunity for the court not to reach the merits. The court would…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Waiver of Issues

    A Double Standard . . . of Review

    An appropriate follow-up to last week’s post that discussed the pitfalls of the standard of review is United States v. Vega, case no. 07-50245 (9th Cir. Sept. 24, 2008). It illustrates a double standard that one wouldn’t ordinarily expect. In the district court, Vega challenged two conditions on the supervised release portion of his sentence.  On appeal, however, he argued that a third condition of his supervised release was also error. You might think he’d be out of luck entirely on that third condition, the general rule being that an argument cannot be made for the first time on appeal  But he’s not. Though Vega did not challenge the third condition…

  • Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  Record on Appeal

    Don’t Forget, Appellants: The Record is Your Burden, Too

    Everyone knows, or should know, that part of the appellant’s burden of demonstrating prejudicial error is to present a record that adequately demonstrates the error. If you’re arguing the court erred in granting summary judgment, you’d think it would be pretty obvious to include all the moving papers, including the moving party’s statement of undisputed material facts (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c, subd. (b)(1)). The appellant in Gunn v Mariners Church, Inc., case no. G038445 (4th Dist. Sept. 2, 2008, ordered published Sept. 30, 2008), failed to include the moving party’ separate statement, with potentially dire consequences, but catches a break from an accommodating court: Critical to our review of…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  Civil Rights,  Immunity

    A Lesson in Collateral Order Doctrine Jurisdiction

    Some lawyers not well-versed in appellate jurisdiction may find themselves fighting against one of two extremes when it comes to interlocutory decisions: the impulse to appeal everything (appealable or not), or failing to evaluate interlocutory orders for possible exceptions to the “final judgment rule,” figuring “why bother” until a final judgment is entered.  Then there are those in the middle who recognize opportunity in interlocutory orders, and seize it. Such were the lawyers representing the appellants in Lazy Y Ranch Ltd. v. Behrens, case no. 07-35315 (9th Cir. Sept. 26, 2008).  Lazy Y sued, alleging a violation of equal protection, after its bids for grazing on state land were rejected…

  • Appeals,  On Reluctance to Engage Appellate Counsel,  Series,  Standard of Review

    Why Some Lawyers and Their Clients are Reluctant to Engage Appellate Counsel, Part 2: “It’s Just Litigation.”

    (NOTE: This post is the second in a series. To read the announcement of the series and/or leave your ideas for subsequent installments, click here.) In my first post in this series, I broke down lawyers’ reasons for not engaging appellate counsel into two broad categories: those related to ability and those related to economics. Today, we will examine a reason related to ability: “It’s just litigation”, or “Hey, I’m a litigator, and appeals are litigation, so I can do it.“ Are appeals litigation?  Well, let’s see.  Adverse parties?  Check.  Legal and/or factual disputes?  Check.  Courtroom and judges?  Check.  Judgments?  Check.  Yeah, I’d say that appeals are litigation. That said,…

  • Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  Discovery,  Mandamus/Prohibition,  Standard of Review,  Writ Practice

    An Important Discovery Ruling Overcomes a Deferential Standard of Review

    For a prospective appellant (or, as in the case profiled here, the prospective writ petitioner), the “abuse of discretion” standard of review can be daunting, and may even convince the party that the pursuit of an appeal or writ is not worthwhile. Not only does it set a high bar for reversal, but it can be very difficult to define within the circumstances of a case. (I’ve written before about the somewhat hazy nature of the “abuse of discretion” standard of review.) Against this backdrop, Alch v. Superior Court, case no. B203726 (2d Dist. Aug 14, 2008) presents a very interesting discussion of the standard as it introduces its decision…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Blogging,  Publication/Depublication

    Help Out Law Blogger Kimberly Kralowec

    Looks like this is the week for appellate bloggers to embark on projects and solicit help from their readers. Unbeknownst to me until now, the day before I announced my intent to publish a series of posts on the reluctance of lawyers and clients to engage appellate counsel, Kimberly Kralowec (pictured left) at The Appellate Practitioner (better know for her excellent The UCL Practitioner) announced that she will be examining what works when asking the Supreme Court to depublish a case. Toward that end, she’s asking readers to submit successful depublication requests. Send them to her at uclpractitioner@gmail.com.

  • Briefing,  Civil Rights,  Constitutional Law,  First Amendment

    The Results of the Shootout at the Amicus Corral

    In a case that attracted amicus participation of noteworthy proportions, the California Supreme Court holds that a medical provider has no constitutional defense, based on freedom of religion and freedom of speech, to a claim for sexual orientation discrimination under California’s Unruh Act (Civ. Code, § 51).  The doctor defendants had refused artificial insemination services to a lesbian and contended that they did so for religious reasons.  The Supremes find no such exception under the federal or state constitutions.  The court finds that because the Act is a facially neutral and valid law of general applicability, the incidental infringement on religious liberty that compliance requires cannot sustain a constitutional defense…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure

    Don’t Give Up On Appellate Jurisdiction

    The appellate courts are zealous about protecting their jurisdiction. When in doubt, it is not unusual for a court to ask for briefing on the issue even where both sides have assumed jurisdiction. And so the Supreme Court does in People v. Segura, case no. S148536 (Aug. 4, 2008), which is interesting for a couple of appellate wrinkles. First, the background. The issue under review was: whether a prescribed jail term that constitutes a material provision of a plea agreement conferring as its chief benefit, a grant of probation in lieu of a prison sentence, may be modified by the trial court in the exercise of its authority to modify…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  Attorney Fees,  California Procedure

    A Judgment that Nobody Noticed Sinks an Appeal

    How can the parties and the court all miss the fact that the court entered a judgment?  Well, when the document that operates as such isn’t labeled “judgment,” I guess one can occasionally slip by . . . to the appellant’s great misfortune in Melbostad v. Fisher, case no. A119514 (July 23, 2008, ordered published Aug. 4, 2008), in which the court of appeal dismisses the appellant’s challenge to a fee award as untimely. In Melbostad, the trial court granted defendant’s special motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute (Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16) and entered an order dismissing the complaint “with prejudice.” It subsequently granted a motion for fees brought by…

  • Briefing,  Legal Writing

    The Value of a Good Reply Brief

    As much as I keep up with appellate issues, some things catch me by surprise. According to this article: “There has long been debate in appellate circles whether reply briefs serve a worthwhile purpose. Some wonder whether justices even read them.” Really? I’ve never doubted the value of a well-written reply brief, nor have I heard others question their value. Though reply briefs are optional, I can’t imagine I’d ever decide against filing one. If you’d like to read what some appellate justices have to say about them, check out Are Reply Briefs Really Necessary? The Recorder e-mailed all 103 appellate justices in California for their views on reply briefs…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  Jurisdiction

    Flexibility on Appellate Jurisdiction

    “Jurisdiction” and “flexibility” are terms that don’t really go together . . . most of the time.  But I’ve taken note before of the willingness of California appellate courts to “save” appeals through various devices, such as a generous construction of the notice of appeal, or treating an appeal from a non-appealable order as a writ petition.  In fact, these devices are used to save appeals from plainly non-appealable orders. They can also be employed where appellate jurisdiction — or lack of it— is less than clear, as in People v. Segura, case no. S148536 (Aug. 4, 2008), where the Supreme Court avoids deciding the issue by treating the appeal as…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  California Supreme Court

    Why Did the Supreme Court Punt on a Jurisdictional Issue?

    Regular readers know I am a jurisdiction geek, and today I get to sink my teeth into a jurisdictional oddity. Well, not a jurisdictional oddity so much as the odd behavior of the Supreme Court with respect to a jurisdictional question. I’ll get to the Supreme Court in a minute. First, a brief rundown on the issue from the case that led me to raise the question in the title to this post. In State of California ex rel Department of Pesticide Regulation v. Pet Food Express Limited, case no. C057156 (3d Dist. July 31, 2008), the court of appeal holds that an order enforcing an administrative subpoena is appealable.…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Attorney Fees,  Federal Procedure,  Standard of Review

    Lawyers Must Eat — Getting Your Attorney Fees on Appeal

    You’d be hard pressed to find a better overview of federal appellate review of attorney fee awards than Moreno v. City of Sacramento, case no. 06-15021 (9th Cir. .July 28, 2008). Judge Kozinski’s analysis begins with the truism “lawyers must eat,” then goes on to analyze the district court’s attorney fee award under 42 U.S.C.§ 1988, and thus looks at the issue from the perspective of the policies underlying attorney fee awards in civil rights cases. Of particular interest is the section on fees for the appeal. Here’s a two-question quiz. Do you know the proper forum for making your application for fees on appeal? If you said the court…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  Federal Procedure,  Removal

    Appealing a Remand Order, and Intra-Circuit Stare Decisis

    When I was in BigLaw, removing a case to federal court seemed a virtually automatic response to any suit that we believed implicated federal jurisdiction. If the federal district court refuses to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and remands the case back to the state court, how do you contest that ruling? That was the question facing the court in California Dept. of Water v. Powerex, case no. 06-15285 (9th Cir. July 22, 2008), and the answer required it to answer two jurisdictional questions. First, does 28 USC §1447(d) preclude the court from exercising jurisdiction to review the remand order in any fashion? If not, then what is the method by which…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Contracts,  Standard of Review,  Statutory Construction

    What Constitutes Extrinsic Evidence that Changes the Standard of Review?

    Well-established, seemingly clear principles like contract interpretation being a matter of law (absent ambiguity requiring extrinsic evidence to resolve), and de novo review of legal questions aren’t always so clear in practice. California National Bank v. Woodbridge Plaza, LLC, case no. G038623 (4th Dist. May 30, 2008, ordered published June 20, 2008) is a case in point. At issue was the meaning of a lease provision that determined the maximum rent for the extended term. The landlord, who prevailed at the bench trial, contended that the court’s interpretation of the lease was governed by substantial evidence review because there was conflicting opinion testimony on the meaning of the lease provision.…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Briefing,  Ethics,  Legal Writing

    It Turns Out that Your Appendix on Appeal is Quite Similar to the One in Your Abdomen

    “Your appendix is a vestigial organ with no known function but it will kill you if it goes awry.”  That’s the clever moral Professor Childress of Legal Profession Blog draws from the story of the attorney who inadvertently submitted an appendix that included his margin notes commenting on the court’s prior opinion.  His post also has additional links regarding the story. Of course, your appendix on appeal does have a function (though I can understand how the temptation to write that line was irresistible to Professor Childress).  But the larger point remains: proof your appendix as carefully as you do your brief.

  • Appellate Procedure,  Criminal Procedure,  Legal Writing,  Standard of Review

    Patrol Cars are Traffic, Too

    Image via Wikipedia In People v. Logsdon, case no. G038366 (4th Dist. May 28, 2008, ordered published June 24, 2008), the defendant contended that the officer following him on an otherwise nearly deserted street in the middle of the night lacked cause to stop his vehicle after defendant crossed several lanes of traffic without signaling. Defendant contended that in the absence of other traffic, his unsignaled lane change was a safe move. He forgot about the patrol car following him! The court holds that the officer who made the stop constituted traffic that needed warning of the lane change. There’s an interesting angle to this case from an appellate perspective…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure

    Keep Appealing Orders Denying Post-Conviction Motions on Jurisdictional Grounds

    People v. Picklesimer, case no. C056385 (3d Dist. July 2, 2008) reminds me of one of those time travel conundrums.  You know, the ones that go something like (to pick a grisly example), “If you go back in time and kill your mother before she even gets pregnant with you, how can you ever exist so that you can go back in time and kill her?” In Picklesimer, the court of appeal dismisses an appeal because the appeal is taken from an order denying the defendant’s post-conviction motion for relief from the sex offender registration requirements, which the trial court denied on the ground that it lacked jurisdiction to grant…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Federal Procedure,  Notice of Appeal

    Everyone Got It Wrong on the Deadline to Appeal

    It is a critical question, and one that can occasionally confound: what is the deadline to appeal?  In Hearns v. San Bernardino Police Department, case no 05-56214 (9th Cir. July 1, 2008), neither the parties nor the trial court got it right. Believing his deadline to appeal an order dismissing his compaint had already passed, Plaintiff filed a Rule 60(b)(6) motion for relief from the order.  The district court denied the motion, but granted a 10-day extension of time to appeal.  After plaintiff appealed, defendants cross-appealed the order granting the extension. Clearly, all of the parties and the district court thought that the extension was necessary. It wasn’t! Plaintiff’s appeal was…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Attorney Fees,  Federal Procedure,  Preemption,  Waiver of Issues

    California Attorney Fee Recovery Preempted by ADA – and a Note on Missed Issues

    It’s quite common for plaintiffs to sue under similar state and federal provisions.  The disabled plaintiffs who sued under both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Disabled Persons Act in Hubbard v. Sobreck LLC, case no. 06-56870 (9th Cir. June 27, 2008) did themselves a favor by doing so, as the court finds that the prevailing defendant’s right to attorney fees under the CDPA is preempted by the more stringent fee provision in the ADA. The ADA fee provision makes fees discretionary, but that has led to a practice of awarding fees to defendants only where the plaintiff’s case is frivolous.  The CDPA, on the other hand,…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  Attorney Fees,  California Procedure

    Appeal That Fee Award

    I don’t usually review unpublished decisions for material for this blog.  But unpublished decisions, even if they don’t create new law, can have some interesting points.  (Just ask Bisnar | Chase.) California Attorney’s Fees has a good post, based on an unpublished decision filed last Monday, reminding everyone to appeal separately from a fee award in addition to any appeal from the judgment.  The appellant in the case filed an untimely notice of appeal from the judgment that did not include an appeal from the subsequent fee award, then filed an untimely notice of appeal from the fee award.  Result: untimely appeal, no jurisdiction, appeal dismissed.