New Year, New Laws for Litigators

464956543Did you keep up with the onslaught of legislative developments affecting litigation this year? Don’t worry, here’s a list of some key changes every California litigator needs to know.

  • Goodbye to the summary adjudication statute amendment. Remember the 2011 amendment to CCP §437c that permitted a motion for summary adjudication of a legal issue or claim for damages that doesn’t completely dispose of a cause of action, affirmative defense, or issue of duty (CCP §437c(s))? Well, it will be just a memory soon as it sunsets by its own terms on January 1, 2015. CCP §437c(u).
  • No tweeting the 5th. Jurors will no longer be subject to criminal contempt for using their cell phones to do research or communicate about an ongoing case while sitting in trial. The reason? Jurors who were subject to criminal contempt could claim the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination, effectively stifling the court’s ability to question them about their use of mobile devices during trial. See Pen C §166. Stats. 2014, ch. 99, AB 2683 (effective January 1, 2015).
  • When succinct is too short. Appeals from limited civil cases must include a brief statement of the reason for the judgment; stating only “Affirmed” or “Reversed” won’t fly. CCP §77(d). Stats. 2014, ch. 58, AB 1932 (effective January 1, 2015). Hopefully a more detailed opinion will inspire greater confidence in the appeals process for limited civil case litigants.
  • One excuse for being late is gone. The briefing deadlines for common post-trial motions (JNOV, new trial, and set aside and vacate a judgment) are now the same. CCP §659(a). Stats. 2014, ch. 93, AB 1659 (effective January 1, 2015). No more excuses based on confusion between conflicting deadlines.
  • You’re only who you say you are. We all know that notaries public are simply certifying that you are who you say you are, but soon there will be a box making that point clear. Beginning January 1, 2015, notaries’ certificates must include a boxed notice stating that the certificate only verifies the identity of the individual, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document. See CC §§1189, 1195 and Govt C §8202, as amended by Stats. 2014, ch. 197, SB 1050 (effective January 1, 2015).
  • Free interpreters for all, subject to the usual funding problems. Noting the “imperative that courts provide interpreters to all parties who require one,” new legislation allows courts to provide an interpreter in any civil action or proceeding at no cost to the parties, regardless of their income. But tight court budgets means there’s a caveat built in: until there’s enough money appropriated to provide an interpreter to every party who needs one, there’s a triage list of priority cases. See Evid C §756(b) and Govt C §68902, as added by Stats. 2014, ch. 721, AB 1657 (effective January 1, 2015).
  • Unethical attorneys beware: CCP 128.5 is back from the dead! After a 10-year absence, the legislature has resurrected CCP §128.5, providing sanctions for bad faith actions or tactics. Watch out! See CCP §128.5 amended by Stats. 2014, ch 425, AB 2494 (effective January 1, 2015).
  • No court on Native American Day. Starting in 2015, California will have a new holiday on the fourth Friday of September: Native American Day. Because the legislature did not also amend CCP §135, which provides that every full day listed as a holiday in Govt C §6700 (except Admissions Day) are court holidays, Native American Day is a non-court day, and litigators need to consider that for computing deadlines and setting hearing dates. It’s possible the legislature didn’t intend to create a court holiday and could still change that with urgency legislation. See Govt C §6700 amended by Stats. 2014, ch 537, AB 1973 (effective January 1, 2015).

Get more on these developments as well as in-depth and practical guidance on procedures from the beginning of the litigation process through appeals in CEB’s collection of civil litigation practice titles.

And don’t miss CEB’s upcoming live program Civil Litigation: A Year in Review on January 10th in Sacramento and Costa Mesa and January 24th in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Top 5 CEBblog™ litigation posts in 2014:

  1. I Object! Know What Objections to Make at a Deposition
  2. Shoot Back with 10 Discovery Objections
  3. 7 Rules for Drafting Interrogatories
  4. What Does It Mean to “Meet and Confer” on a Discovery Dispute?
  5. The Key to a Persuasive Opening Statement: A Strong Outline

© The Regents of the University of California, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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  1. […] New Year, New Laws for Litigators […]

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