Statements of Decision: The what, why, how…and when judges trick you into waiving them!

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
June 22, 2023

This comes up every call I get after a judge trial: the statement of decision. The statement of decision in a bench trial stands in for the verdict in a jury trial. It tells you—and more importantly, the Court of Appeal—what findings the court made and what theories it accepted. Pretty important if you’re planning to challenge those findings and theories on appeal.

But you don’t have an automatic right to a statement of decision. And very commonly, parties—even their attorneys—are tricked into thinking they have a statement of decision, when really all they have is a tentative decision.

In this clip from episode 74, we discuss why a statement of decision is important, when to request one, how some judges might actually try to trick parties into not requesting a statement of decision, and when you might not want to request one.

Watch the clip here.

This is a clip from episode 74 of the California Appellate Law Podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at or (714) 641-1232.