Requesting a statement of decision in California is the topic of this blog post.
A request for a statement of decision in California is authorized pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 632.
Code of Civil Procedure § 632 states that,
“In superior courts, upon the trial of a question of fact by the court, written findings of fact and conclusions of law shall not be required. The court shall issue a statement of decision explaining the factual and legal basis for its decision as to each of the principal controverted issues at trial upon the request of any party appearing at the trial. The request must be made within 10 days after the court announces a tentative decision unless the trial is concluded within one calendar day or in less than eight hours over more than one day in which event the request must be made prior to the submission of the matter for decision. The request for a statement of decision shall specify those controverted issues as to which the party is requesting a statement of decision. After a party has requested the statement, any party may make proposals as to the content of the statement of decision.
The statement of decision shall be in writing, unless the parties appearing at trial agree otherwise; however, when the trial is concluded within one calendar day or in less than 8 hours over more than one day, the statement of decision may be made orally on the record in the presence of the parties.”
A statement of decision is where the Judge states the legal reasoning for its decision on certain contested also known as controverted issues. A statement of decision can be requested in a civil, family law or probate case in California.
Importance of requesting a statement of decision in California.
Requesting a statement of decision is critical due to the fact that a failure to request a statement of decision on all of the controverted issues in a case will prove fatal to any possible appeal of the case as the reviewing court is required to presume that every fact essential to the judgment was proved and found by the trial court if no statement of decision has been requested.
If no statement of decision has been requested, the reviewing court is required to presume that every fact essential to the judgment was proved and found by the trial court. Review in these circumstances is limited to a determination as to whether there is any evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, to support the judgment. See Agri-Systems, Inc. v. Foster Poultry Farms (2008) 168 Cal. App. 4th 1128, 1134-1135.
Any party that appeared at the trial can file and serve a request for a statement of decision in California. If the trial is concluded within one calendar day, or in less than eight hours spread out over more than one day, the request must be made before the matter is submitted for decision. If the trial is longer than that, the request must be made within 10 days after the court announces a tentative decision.
A trial shall be deemed to actually commence at the beginning of the opening statement or argument of any party or his or her counsel, or if there is no opening statement, then at the time of the administering of the oath or affirmation to the first witness, or the introduction of any evidence. See Code of Civil Procedure § 581(a)(6).
Judicial time off the bench does not count in determining how long a trial lasts. See Gorman v. Tassajara Development Corporation (2009) 178 Cal. App. 4th 44, 61-63.
The 10-day period for making the request commences at the time the clerk mails the copy of the minute order or decision. See Hutchins v. Glanda (1990) 216 Cal. App. 3d 1529, 1531.
If counsel makes a timely request for the statement, the court’s failure to prepare the statement is reversible error. See Social Service Union, Local 535 v. County of Monterey (1989) 208 Cal. App. 3d 676, 681.
It is very important to be very specific in drafting a request for a statement of decision as the request for a statement of decision must specify the controverted issues for which a statement of decision is requested. The trial judge is not required to sift through a host of improper specifications in search of a few arguably proper ones. Although a party cannot be prevented from using the request as a way of arguing with the court rather than clarifying the grounds of its decision, a party who makes that choice is not entitled to rely on the resulting document to insulate the judgment from the presumption of correctness. See Yield Dynamics, Inc. v. TEA Systems Corp. (2007) 154 Cal. App. 4th 547, 558-559.
When there has been a request for a statement of decision, the statement of decision may be limited to only those issues specified in the request if less than all material issues are specified See Harvard Investment Co. v. Gap Stores, Inc. (1984) 156 Cal. App. 3d 704, 709 n.3.
If an issue was not brought up at the trial, the reviewing court is under no obligation to address it. See Colony Ins. Co. v. Crusader Ins. Co. (2010) 188 Cal. App. 4th 743, 750-751.
A party waives any objection on appeal based on the trial court’s failure to file a written statement of decision when trial lasts less than one day and that party fails to make an oral request, and when language in that party’s points and authorities that were alleged to be a written request was not specific, but merely asked court to find in her favor. See Martinez v. County of Tulare (1987) 190 Cal. App. 3d 1430, 1434-1435.
Requesting a statement of decision should be done in every contested litigation case.
An experienced litigation attorney can evaluate your situation and determine the appropriate course of action. Contact attorney Nathan Mubasher for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.
Schedule a free consultation today with attorney Nathan Mubasher.
Call (800) 691-2721 and let’s talk about your options.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR NATHAN MUBASHER:
Law Offices of Nathan Mubasher
2621 Green River Rd, Ste 105 PMB 403
Corona, CA 92882
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Thank you for reading. I hope I could have been educational as I endeavor to provide my knowledge as a free public service. Please note that all the materials and information on this blog are general analyses made available for the public’s general informational purposes only. These analyses are not in any way intended to serve as specific legal advice to be applied in your particular situation. Although I am an attorney, absent a signed retention and engagement letter, I am not your attorney. There are no exceptions to this rule. Moreover, you shall not rely on the information I am providing you, as it is only for your general knowledge and educational purposes, since this information would likely change based on any additional facts. Thus the transmission and receipt of information on this blog by anyone does not form or constitute an attorney-client relationship. My knowledge of laws is limited to California. Anyone receiving any information on this blog should not act upon the information provided without first obtaining the services of professional legal counsel licensed in their respective jurisdiction. Best of luck.