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: Memorandum Opinions

Lack of record leads affirmance by memorandum decision

Most appellate opinions in California include a full summary of the facts and procedural history, as consistent with the constitutional entitlement to a reasoned opinion. But sometimes the Court of Appeal will issue a mere “memorandum opinion” when the result is compelled by authority on which there is no real question.

In Young v. Longstaff (D6 May 12, 2023 No. H050172) 2023 WL 3408533 (nonpub. opn.), the could determined that the absence of an oral record supported an affirmance via a memorandum opinion rather than a full legal essay. Young challenged the application of the statute of limitations, but did not include an oral record of the trial, involving four witnesses concerning Young’s acknowledgment of the debt and promise to pay it back. That all bore on the date the statute ran.

In such a case, no further examination would be fruitful. As People v. Garcia recognized, “the individually prepared legal essay, the product of countless hours of precious judicial time, is an impossible procedure for handling today's monstrous caseload, and in the majority of appeals it serves no useful social purpose.”

Takeaway: If you are the respondent and the appellant failed to supply an oral record, suggest that the court affirm by memorandum opinion under California Standards of Judicial Administration, Title 8, Standard 8.1 and People v. Garcia (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 847, 853–855.

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