Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Court of Appeal Declares:
Appellate Divisions Must Explain Decisions
By a MetNews Staff Writer
There is no conflict between Code of Civil Procedure §77(d), which requires that superior court appellate divisions provide a short explanation in writing of its decision, and California Rules of Court rule 8.887(a) which says that those courts don’t have to issue written opinions, the Fifth District Court of Appeal declared yesterday.
“In our view,” Justice Stephen J. Kane wrote, “a ‘written opinion,’” which the rule says appellate division judges need not prepare, “generally connotes something more than ‘a brief statement of the reasons for the judgment,’” which the code section does require, as of Jan. 1, 2015.
In contemplating the amending of §77 to require a statement of reasons, the jurist said, there was an awareness of the potential increase on the courts’ burden, as shown by the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary analysis of the bill, and the bill “sought to impose only a minimal explanation requirement.” Kane noted:
“Examples of what would suffice as a brief explanation of a ruling were presented in the form of tentative rulings between two and eight sentences in length, most of which were two sentences and none of which was more than one paragraph.”
The case was remanded to the Kern Superior Court Appellate Division for an explanation of why it reversed the trial court’s granting of a suppression motion in a drunk driving case.
In a portion of the opinion which was not certified for publication, the court rejected the defendant’s contention that the Office of Attorney General had no right of appeal to the Appellate Division.
Although the Appellate Division certified the case to the Court of Appeal, transfer was denied by operation of law. Upon petition of the defendant, the case was transferred.
The case is People v. Guerra, 16 S.O.S. 5858.
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