By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Third District Court of Appeal, acting Wednesday in a case marked by unusual circumstances, reversed a judgment of dismissal entered by the Yolo Superior Court after a demurrer was sustained without leave to amend, holding the court in Yolo had no jurisdiction in an action contesting the refusal of the Sacramento Superior Court to provide him with a transcript of his criminal trial.
Plaintiff Terry Buford had been convicted of, among other crimes, the attempted premeditated murder in 2004 of a seven-month-old fetus through the beating of his ex-girlfriend. He wanted the transcript for the purpose of a collateral attack on the convictions, which were upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2007.
He sued the Office of Clerk of the Sacramento Superior Court and others, filing his complaint in Yolo Superior Court, arguing that the court in Sacramento would have a conflict of interest. The defendants agreed not to contest jurisdiction if Buford would dismiss the County of Sacramento as a defendant, which he did.
Justice Andrea L. Hoch wrote the opinion reversing the Yolo judgment. She said in an unpublished opinion:
“The parties’ stipulation to adjudicate the demurrer in Yolo County after Buford’s dismissal of the County of Sacramento did not remedy Yolo County Superior Court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction cannot be manufactured by consent of the parties….Regardless the wishes of parties to an action, they cannot litigate in a court that lacks subject matter jurisdiction.”
“As a matter of basic constitutional law, a forum court must have some minimum contacts, ties, or relations with the parties and the acts addressed by the complaint….In this case, Buford’s complaint alleges no events that occurred in Yolo County or that any of the parties have even the slightest tie to Yolo County. Indeed, Buford seems to have sought out Yolo County as a forum precisely because it had no ties to the events or parties described in his complaint. Consequently, Yolo County had no constitutionally sufficient basis for assuming jurisdiction over this case.
“Moreover, Yolo County could not assume subject matter jurisdiction after the Sacramento County Superior Court exercised jurisdiction by taking the very actions for which Buford sought civil remedies….Thus, even if Yolo County could somehow have assumed original jurisdiction, it was barred from adjudicating Buford’s complaint after Sacramento County Superior Court ruled on the requests forming Buford’s basis for complaint.”
The case is Buford v. Superior Court, C095355.
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