Legal News and Appellate Tips

Each week, TVA appellate attorney Tim Kowal reviews several recent decisions out of the appellate courts in California, and elsewhere, and reports about the ones that might help you get an edge in your cases and appeals.

If you would like to receive weekly updates of the articles posted here, click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Tag: Evidentiary Objections

Use of Audio & Video at Trial Affirmed on Appeal

Here is a memorable case that illustrates how to get audio and video footage into evidence, how to challenge admission of that evidence—and how not to challenge it.

A crossbow-wielding defendant at trial cleverly attempted to prevent admission of audio and video footage proving he fired arrows into the plaintiff’s law office. Although unrepresented at trial, the shrewd defendant in Quintero v. Weinkauf (D1d4 Mar. 3, 2022 no. A159812) 2022 WL 620722 (nonpub. opn.) was keenly aware of three important things about using audio and video footage at trial: (1) it must have proper foundation; (2) audio recorded without consent generally is illegal; and (3) it may implicate the right against self-incrimination.

But none of the defendant’s strategies worked for one simple reason: he was transparently attempting to lie to the court. The plaintiff recovered a judgment totaling $2.2 million against the defendant (who was found to be worth $1.5 million).

Read More
Trial Court’s “Blanket” Rulings on Evidence May Be Treated with Suspicion

A trial court’s rulings on evidentiary objections are tough to reverse on appeal. But what about when the rulings are reflexive and not really supported by any analysis? In some cases, such “blanket” rulings may be found to be an abuse of discretion and reversed on appeal.

The appellant argued improper “blanket” rulings were the reason an anti-SLAPP motion was granted against him in *[Foley v. McElroy](https://casetext.com/case/foley-v-mcelroy?resultsNav=false&jxs=ca&tab=keyword)* (D4d1 Dec. 6, 2021 no. D077299) 2021 WL 5766572 (nonpub. opn.). But the Court of Appeal disagreed and affirmed.

Also: remember that anti-SLAPP orders are directly appealable. Do not wait around for a judgment.

Read More
Formatting Matters: MSJ Evidence Objections Overruled That Did Not Conform to Rules of Court Format

If you work in court, you have seen the basic template for submitting written objections to evidence supporting a motion. It is the chart where is listed the objectionable matter, the objection, and a space for the judge to indicate whether the objection is "sustained/overruled." When you need one of these, you probably search your computer for the last one you did and get to work, without much thought to whether the format of the chart is quite correct.

Time for a systems check. In Scofield v. Hanson Bridgett LLP (D3 Nov. 8, 2021) 2021 WL 5176140 (no. C081115) (nonpub. opn.), a plaintiff's written evidentiary objections, filed in response to the defendant's motion for summary judgment, were overruled because they "fail[ed] to number the objections consecutively," and did not provide a "space for the court to date or sign its rulings." And on appeal, the court held that this ruling on pure formatting grounds was within the trial court's discretion: A court does not abuse its discretion in holding a party to the mandatory formatting requirements or in declining to give a party a second chance to file properly formatted objections. (Hodjat v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1, 8-9.)

Read More
False Declaration Signed Under Pressure Does Not Create a Triable Issue

It is rare that the Court of Appeal will issue a writ instructing the trial court to grant summary judgment. But that is what happened in the published opinion in Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Association v. Superior Court (D4d2 Oct. 7, 2021) ___ Cal.Rptr.3d ___ 2021 WL 4618080 (no. E076549). After the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff's attorney pressured a witness to sign a declaration. Based on that declaration, the court denied the motion. But a later deposition revealed nothing about the declaration was true, and that the witness signed it just to get the attorney to leave her place of employment to avoid trouble.

I was surprised to find the court offered no admonition against the conduct of plaintiff's counsel. What counsel did here seems to me very close to suborning perjury. True, the case is not over, and the trial court will have the opportunity to make whatever admonitions are appropriate. But then again, the indulgent trial court would have credited the false declaration — even after the evidence showed it was false — had the Court of Appeal not stepped in. I think a word about ethics was called for here.

Does this surprise you, Donald Patrick Eckler, DAN COTTER, Kansas Gooden, Lindsey Lawton?

Get a weekly digest of these articles delivered to your inbox by subscribing here: https://lnkd.in/g23bc4Y.

Read More
Do Curative Instructions Cure Anything?

Here is one reason why trials are so stressful:

What do you do after the jury hears something improper? Object and draw attention to it? Or do nothing and waive?

Appellate attorney Frank Lowrey discusses the options with Jeff Lewis and me. The law presumes that curative instructions purge any prejudice by the offending statements. But one is reminded of the retort Dickens put in the mouth of Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist upon being informed the law would presume his wife acted at his instruction: "If the law supposes that, the law is an ass — an idiot."

Read More
When Does a Motion in Limine Preserve Trial Objections?

Do you still have to object if you filed a motion in limine? While a denial of a MIL preserves your objections, a deferred ruling preserves nothing.

Counsel must be prepared to make contemporaneous objections at every instance to preserve the objection.

Read More
Trial Judge's Incorrect Ruling on Evidence Leads to Reversal on Appeal

"I have done a lot of appeals," a colleague told me recently discussing how important evidentiary objections were at trial, "and I have never seen a court reverse because of an evidentiary ruling."

Responding to that challenge is Nicholson v. Southern California Edison Co. (D2d7 Jun. 22, 2021) no. B302287 (nonpub. opn.). Injured electricians sued Edison for negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Edison by excluding the plaintiffs' testimony.

This was an abuse of discretion. The evidence was based on personal knowledge, and it was relevant to a material fact. Reversed.

The upshot: Do not try to win a summary judgment motion by excluding the opposing party's evidence. Any victory by such means will likely be short-lived.

Read More
Objections to Evidence Improper, Summary Judgment Reversed

Before your next summary-judgment motion, be sure to read Sandoval v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. Jan. 13, 2021) No. 18-55289, holding that perfunctory evidentiary objections are disallowed, and summarizing other […]

Read More
In Summary Judgment Appeal, Split Decision on Unruled-Upon Objections, Conclusory Expert Opinions, and Design-Immunity Defense

Expert declarations opposing summary judgment ordinarily do not need an extensive analysis, and evidentiary objections ordinarily must be ruled upon or else deemed denied. But in a 2-1 decision out […]

Read More

Tags

Podcast (85)
Videos (73)
Appealability and Appealable Orders (27)
Abuse of Discretion (23)
Legal Writing (21)
Notices of Appeal (18)
Statements of Decision (17)
Waiver and Forfeiture (16)
Unpublished Opinions (16)
Stays on Appeal (16)
Splits of Authority (15)
Mischief (15)
Attorney Fees (14)
Arbitration (14)
Dismissals (14)
Anti-SLAPP (13)
Dissents (12)
Briefing (12)
Family Law (11)
Record on Appeal (11)
New Trial Motions (11)
Mootness (10)
Timeliness (10)
Sanctions (9)
Appellate Sanctions (9)
Civility (9)
Judgment Enforcement (9)
Oral Argument (9)
California Supreme Court (9)
Preliminary Injunctions (9)
Evidentiary Objections (9)
Collateral Orders (9)
Federal Courts (9)
Motions for Reconsideration (8)
Exclusion of Evidence (8)
Timely and Untimely Appeals (8)
Jurisdiction (8)
Implied Findings (8)
Appealability (8)
Dismissed Appeals (8)
Experts (8)
Trial Strategy (8)
CCP 998 Offers (7)
Summary Judgments and Summary Adjudications (7)
Respondent Arguments (7)
Ninth Circuit (7)
Writ Petitions (7)
Trial Procedure (7)
Probate Appeals (7)
Disqualification (6)
Appellate Bonds (6)
Admission of Improper Evidence (6)
Standards of Review (6)
Appellate Practice (6)
Discovery (6)
Substantial Evidence (6)
Stipulated Judgments (6)
Settlements (6)
Posttrial Motions (5)
Default Judgments (5)
Ethical Duty of Candor (5)
Standing (5)
Finding Compelled as a Matter of Law (Failure of Proof) Standard of Review (5)
Notices of Entry (4)
Depublished Opinions (4)
Motions to Vacate and Set Aside Judgments (4)
Excessive Damages (4)
Trust and Probate (4)
Appeals Treated as Writs (4)
Motions in Limine (4)
Disentitlement Doctrine (4)
Frivolous Motions (3)
Juror Peremptory Challenges (3)
Petitions for Review (3)
Jury Waivers (3)
Summary Judgments (3)
Expert Opinions (3)
Motions to Dismiss (3)
Summary Judgment (3)
Appealable Orders (3)
Mediation (3)
Stays (3)
Demurrers (3)
Motions to Vacate (3)
Amicus Briefs (3)
Trial Irregularities and Structural Errors (3)
Right to Jury Trial (3)
Judicial Admissions (2)
Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility (2)
Trial by Reference and Pro Tem Judges (2)
Law and Motion (2)
Contempt (2)
Attorney Client Privilege (2)
Forfeiture and Waiver (2)
PAGA Actions (2)
Remote Arguments (2)
Litigation Tips (2)
Recovery of Costs (2)
Standards of Evidence (2)
Personal Jurisdiction (2)
ADA and Unruh Accessibility Actions (2)
Tentative Rulings (2)
Landlord Tenant (2)
Judicial Bias (2)
Prejudicial Error (2)
Appeals Dismissed (2)
Invited Error (2)
Waiver (2)
Untimeliness (2)
Legal Practice (2)
Finality and Final Orders (2)
Pretrial Procedure (2)
Federal Appeals (2)
Alter Ego (2)
Post Reversal Issues (2)
Pretrial Issues (2)
Class Actions (2)
Comments (2)
Medical Rights (2)
Premature Appeals (2)
Legal Tech (2)
Civil Theft (1)
Treble Damages (1)
Frivolous Appeals (1)
Post-Appellate Issues (1)
Referral Fees (1)
PAGA Attorney Fees (1)
Issue Selection on Appeal (1)
Attorney Feese (1)
Employment Law (1)
Common Interest Doctrine (1)
Premises Liability (1)
Juror Misconduct (1)
Product Liability (1)
Clear and Convincing (1)
Clerks Service of File Stamped Judgment (1)
Designating the Record (1)
Trade Restraints (1)
Civil Code 3334 (1)
Benefits Obtained Trespass Damages (1)
Trespass (1)
Property Rights (1)
Inherent Authority (1)
Support Awards (1)
Forfeiture (1)
PostJudgment Litigation (1)
Unsupported Arguments (1)
Petitions for Rehearing (1)
Judicial Notice (1)
Post Reversal (1)
Moot Appeals (1)
Appellate Briefing (1)
Pleadings (1)
Attorney Fees - CCP 1021.5 (1)
Judicial Estoppel (1)
Harmless Error (1)
Record Designation (1)
Typeface (1)
Typography (1)
Jury Instructions (1)
Precedent (1)
New Arguments (1)
Third Parties and Nonparties (1)
Ninth CircuitAbuse of Discretion (1)
Out-of-State Litigant (1)
Family Court (1)
Split Decisions (1)
Inconsistent Verdicts (1)
Punitive Damages (1)
Dicta (1)
Petitionf ro Review (1)
DismissalsAppealability and Appealable Orders (1)
Motions to Quash (1)
Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings (1)
Consenting to Judgments (1)
Law of the Case (1)
Record (1)
Bankruptcy (1)
Local Rules (1)
Evidentiary Presumptions (1)
New Trial (1)
Exhaustion of Remedies (1)
Waived and Forfeiture (1)
Per Se Errors (1)
Review as Writ Petition (1)
Incorrect Decisions (1)
Attorney Misconduct (1)
Restraining Orders (1)
Summary Reversal (1)
Judicial Misconduct (1)
Stipulated Reversals (1)
Constitutional Litigation (1)
Constitutional Law (1)
Mistrials (1)
Administrative Law (1)
Podcasts (1)
Writs of Mandamus (CCP 1085) (1)
Nonsuit (1)
Closing Argument (1)
Stare Decisis (1)
Settled Statements (1)
Nonsuits JNOVs and 631.8 Judgments (1)
Retainer Agreements (0)
Professional Ethics (0)
Appellate (0)
Notice of Appeal (0)
Landlore Tenant (0)
Split of Authority (0)
No categories Legal Writing (0)
crossmenuchevron-down