Broken Record Exhortation

Today’s example of my “sounds like a broken appellate record” exhortation comes from In re Marriage of Caballero and Dearcia (Sept. 13, 2017, D071399) [nonpub. opn.] in which the appellant first designated reporter’s transcripts of two hearings but then received a notice they had not been reported, which notice also informed him of the alternate agreed statement or settled statement procedure.  However, the appellant did not pursue those alternatives.  The Court of Appeal reiterated the refrain that failure to provide the record — even in the alternative format — requires the Court to conclusively presume the judgment is correct as to all evidentiary matters, meaning no argument as to sufficiency of the evidence is permitted.

However, the appellant sought to avoid this predicament by arguing he had been denied due process by the combination of lack of a reporter and the lack of detail in the judgment.  Not so, explained the Court as the superior court website “provides extensive information on how to obtain a court reporter,” and he was advised of the alternatives.  As for the “lack of detail” claim, the judgment contained all the information necessary to affirm it, as it referenced a statute and contained a factual finding.

So, if you don’t have a reporter, be sure and pursue the alternatives.  Better yet, pay the money to have a reporter present, as the money spend on the reporter is far less than what it will cost to go through the onerous and costly settled statement procedure, even for the shortest hearing.


Seeking Truth Is a Sufficient Goal for Standing

In Dent v. Wolf, B278951 (Sept. 12, 2017), 2/8 decided an interesting standing issue in the context of a paternity case.  The 69-year-old plaintiff petitioned to establish a parental relationship with a putative father who had passed away back in 1985, with final judgment on his estate being entered in 1993.  In the trial court, administrator Wolf succeeded in having the petition dismissed on the asserted ground “that the Petition presents no justi[c]iable controversy as it seeks only an Order determining paternity with no request for any payments of any kind.”  Wolf argued Dent had not suffered injury but merely sought “to invoke the judicial process for apparently personal reasons.”

The Court of Appeal reversed, explaining Family Code 7360 identifies those with standing, specifically including the child;  there was no added requirement the “child express a pecuniary interest as a condition of the paternity suit,” nor was there an age limitation.  It would seem self-evident the purpose of a paternity action is to establish paternity, any  consequences which may or may not flow from that being irrelevant to the standing question.  “Personal reasons” are the primary purpose of a paternity action, the Court noting, “The interest in identifying her father is independent of a claim for financial remuneration, affords her standing, and demonstrates a justiciable controversy.”

So, occasionally in the law, truth is its own reward, or at least it is sufficient to confer standing.  For the opinion: