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.

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Tag: Litigation Tips

Ten Trial Tips from an Appellate Specialist

Last week I presented my talk “Ten Trial Tips from an Appellate Specialist” to the San Francisco Lawyers Network (Feb. 16, 2023).

Here are the tips:

Rule Zero: Make the Record

#1 Make sure your theories of the case are captured in your pleadings

#2 Was key evidence excluded? Preserve the issue by making a proffer.

#3 Keep objecting to evidence if the judge “defers” ruling on your MIL.

#4 Object to Jury Instructions

#5 Review the Verdict for Inconsistences

#6 Request and Object to the Statement of Decision

#7 File a motion for new trial to preserve challenges to the damages amount …and Watch out for JNOVs!

#8 Calculate Appellate Deadlines Correctly

#9 Avoid Common Appellate Briefing Mistakes

#10 Advise your client about important post-judgment issues (Attorney fees and costs; SLAPP fees; Bonds and Stays of Judgment-Enforcement; Post-judgment interest)

Evergreen Tip: Get a Court Reporter!

You may download a PDF of my slideshow by clicking through to the full article.

Thank you to my colleagues who sent me their top tips!

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What You Need to Know about Fee-and-Costs Awards on Appeal

The issue that most often drags appeals back into more litigation is attorney fee and costs. What happens when, while focusing on the appeal, the prevailing party gets a substantial award of fees and costs?

• Do you have to separately appeal from the fees and costs award? (Yes…usually.)

• How can you stay enforcement of the fees and costs award? (Fee & cost awards are stayed automatically…sometimes.)

• If you win the underlying appeal, what happens to the fees and costs award? (It goes away automatically…in theory.)

We discuss these questions and more in this nuts-and-bolts episode of the California Appellate Law Podcast.

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Personal Jurisdiction Unnecessary to Issue Judgment on an Out-of-State Judgment, New Published CA Case Holds

CEB has published my article, “Personal Jurisdiction Unnecessary to Issue Judgment on an Out-of-State Judgment, New Published CA Case Holds.”

The article is about a surprising recent appellate opinion, WV 23 Jumpstart, LLC v. Mynarcik (D3 Nov. 21, 2022) No. C095046, that allowed a Nevada judgment debtor to domesticate a judgment in California—even though the debtor had no contacts with California. And even more surprising, after the Nevada judgment expired, the court allowed the creditor to re-domesticate the judgment back to Nevada.

There are two reasons you should take strong notice of this case, particularly if other states follow this approach:

(1) Judgments accrue interest at different rates depending on state law, so consider domesticating all your judgments in a high-yield jurisdiction—the highest yields are in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, at 12%.

(2) Judgments lapse after a certain time depending on state law, so consider domesticating all your judgments in a “stay-fresh” jurisdiction—judgments in Delaware, for instance, never expire.

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Personal Jurisdiction Unnecessary to Issue Judgment on an Out-of-State Judgment, New Published Case Holds

The new postjudgment opportunities suggested in the published case of WV 23 Jumpstart, LLC v. Mynarcik (D3 Nov. 21, 2022) No. C095046. The court holds that an out-of-state money judgment may be domesticated in California, even though California lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant. There are two reasons you should take strong notice of this if other states follow this approach:

(1) Judgments accrue interest at different rates depending on state law, so you should domesticate all your judgments in a high-yield jurisdiction—the highest yields are in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, at 12%.

(2) Judgments lapse after a certain time depending on state law, so you should domesticate all your judgments in a “stay-fresh” jurisdiction (e.g., judgments never expire in Delaware).

Here is what happened in Jumpstart:

Nevada issued a $1.5 million judgment against loan guarantors. Lenders then got the judgment domesticated in California. The Nevada judgment expired in 2016. But the California judgment remained.

Nevada-based defendant Mynarcik had no contacts or assets in California. Jumpstart, the new assignee of the judgment, wanted to enforce the judgment against Mynarcik in Nevada, but the Nevada judgment had been expired for several years already. So Jumpstart decided to take the domesticated California judgment and domesticate it right back to Nevada. A little like standing in a bucket and pulling yourself up by the handle, but worth a shot.

Mynarcik raised a personal jurisdiction challenge to the California judgment. The Sacramento Superior Court agreed, but the Court of Appeal reversed, finding a court does not need personal jurisdiction to domesticate a sister-state judgment.

I am curious to know what the #AppellateLinkedIn community thinks about this one. Will other state courts follow this reasoning?

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Update Your Trial Bookmarks: Dispositive Motions in Limine and Nonstatutory Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings "a Recipe for Reversal"​

There is an important point of trial practice about filing dispositive motions in limine in Tung v. Chicago Title (D1d3 Apr. 28, 2021) no. A151526 (published). That point is: Don't. The same point is made about relying on nonstatutory motions for judgment on the pleadings: Here is the quote to put in your opposition: "[W]e caution trial judges to be wary when choosing to decide an in limine motion that, no matter how captioned, functions as a nonstatutory motion for judgment on the pleadings, particularly when the motion is filed on the eve of trial. Doing so, under circumstances like those presented here, is a recipe for reversal."

Finally, there is also an excellent tip for expediting an appeal of an early catastrophic trial ruling and avoiding judgment collection pending appeal: dismissing remaining trivial claims (with prejudice), and stipulating to the prevailing party's fees and costs providing enforcement is to be stayed pending appeal. This was a shrewd move by appellant's counsel here, who served their client well.

Read on.

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Measure Twice, Redact Once

If you have ever held a redacted document up to the light to see the redacted text, you know other attorneys are doing the same. In a redacted PDF, you […]

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