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Can a Judge use a Mandatory Authority such as a case law not present?

#1
What is the name of your state? California

Hi everyone, Hope your all having a good week. I wanted to ask the question if a case law is presented, either from the Defense or Prosecutor, Is there a technical requirement for the Judge to lawfully assert a conflicting case law.

An example I can think of is the People V. Singh and People V. DiFiore, Were one says you can relay on Speed Trap Defenses if evidence shows you going above 55MPH and the other says negative.

If the Prosecution or Defense presents one or the other, Can a Judge find it to be Unbinding/Unmandentory to follow if he is aware/believes of a conflicting Case law? Does the case law text or document need to be present to be viewed by both sides? If not is just citing the conflicting case law in the court minutes enough?

Are there specific CCP requirements to present a case law in open court?

I understand a Judge can do whatever he/she wants and that's what appealing a case is for, However, if it's done as close to the book as possible what is the outcome?

-Agent
 


Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
#2
The purpose of briefs and other documents by the parties is to assist the court in resolving the dispute. Part of doing that is citing the applicable law, including any relevant case law, to persuade the judge that the law favors the outcome that party seeks. A judge (or the judge’s clerks) may research the law themselves to verify what the parties cited and they may also look for other relevant law that applies to the case. If the judge finds law that applies that the parties failed to cite, the judge may use what he or she has found in his/her decision. Indeed, if the judge knows of controlling case law, he or she would need to use that in making his/her decision. But the judge is not obligated to do that research. Thus, if the parties want to have their best shot at getting a favorable decision, they really need to do a good job of research and present everything that is relevant to the issue at hand. Don’t expect the court to do the work you should have done.
 
#3
I think taking in what you said makes sense if there is a requirement for Judges to document their reasoning for their decision after rendering a verdict.
Do you know is there something in the CCP that requires the judge to document this fact if it occurs or does a formal request need to be filed. I tried googling around but I couldn't find anything specific that talk's about judges disclosing the technicalities of their decisions. Maybe this only happens on Appeals during the opening brief stage?

Thank you again Taxing.
 

Stevef

Senior Member
#4
With the disclaimer that I practice in Massachusetts, and not in California:

I can file a request for written findings of fact and rulings of law.

That being said, I had a conversation with a District Court judge recently. He suggested I file something and he told me that he would act on it. I asked if he could do that, as it was clearly not permitted. He said "I'm a judge - I can do whatever I want and get away with it unless I'm appealed". In this instance, he knows he won't be appealed.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#5
With the disclaimer that I practice in Massachusetts, and not in California:

I can file a request for written findings of fact and rulings of law.

That being said, I had a conversation with a District Court judge recently. He suggested I file something and he told me that he would act on it. I asked if he could do that, as it was clearly not permitted. He said "I'm a judge - I can do whatever I want and get away with it unless I'm appealed". In this instance, he knows he won't be appealed.
The judges in Massachusetts are not like judges in other states in that they are appointed for life by the governor. In Michigan, judges are elected.
 

adjusterjack

It's a Dry Heat
#6
I understand a Judge can do whatever he/she wants and that's what appealing a case is for, However, if it's done as close to the book as possible what is the outcome?
I don't know what you are trying to accomplish here but if you think that spouting case law in traffic court (or small claims court) is going to make a difference to the outcome, you have another think coming.

The judge won't owe you an explanation for his decision. If you think he erred you file an appeal.
 
#7
I don't know what you are trying to accomplish here but if you think that spouting case law in traffic court (or small claims court) is going to make a difference to the outcome, you have another think coming.

The judge won't owe you an explanation for his decision. If you think he erred you file an appeal.
Adjuster, respectfully if I have a question about traffic court I'll post it in the traffic forum and you can have your chance to speculate there. I don't want this threat to get highjacked based on your assumptions on how you want to interpret the reasoning behind the opening post. My questions were direct and if you reread the post the caselaws posted were an example of a situation.

Thank you.

As for everyone else, thank you as well for the feedback, I learn things everyday on this forum.
 
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Zigner

Senior Member
#8
Did you have a specific legal matter that you are involved in, or is this hypothetical?

If you have a specific legal matter, please post some facts relating to the matter. Answering questions in a vacuum is not helpful for anyone.

Thank you.
 
#9
Yes Zigner, The judge found the case law I provided to be non-binding on the court because the Appellate court was not in the same country as the Trial court. I'm in the appealing process and am citing Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) and am trying to fill gaps right now on what the normal procedure is like so I don't burn time researching a deadend, for example, standards for presenting a caselaw in open court. From the feedback I am getting is that there is no requirement at all if the judge is aware of a conflicting case law.
The part I am trying to understand if what Adjustor jack is hinting at, if a judge is presented a caselaw with the facts matching the case, It seem's like he can just consider it specifically non-binding with the reason that there is conflicting case law at the same level in another district even though neither of the parties may be aware of it, but I guess then again it may just go back to what Jack said about appeal. It's almost cat and mouse. It's boggling to read a case law that says's a Judge has to abide by Primary Authority's such as Caselaws from the Appellate or Supreme court regardless of the county and to find he/she won't find that to be binding either and then I conclude what SteveF spoke of. The judge can do anything unless he/she is appealed.

*PS, I spelled your name correctly :D
 
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#10
Yes Zigner, The judge found the case law I provided to be non-binding on the court because the Appellate court was not in the same country as the Trial court.
Country or county? Case law from another country (e.g. a nation other than the U.S.) is never binding on a U.S. court. So if you cited a case from outside the U.S. you can expect that it won't be given a whole lot of weight by a court in the U.S.

If what you really meant was county then understand that in California the appeals courts are divided into 6 different districts, each covering a different group of counties. If the trial court is in a county that is covered by say the Sixth District Court of Appeal then decisions of the Sixth District would be binding on the trial court and it would have to abide by the decisions of that district. So in that case if you cited a case from the 2nd District that conflicted with a decision from the 6th District, the court would have to rely on the 6th District opinion and could not use the one you cited from the 2nd district.

Now, if instead you cited a case from the second district and there were no cases on point from the 6th district, but there was a case from the 4th district on the the matter that conflicted with the second district opinion then the trial court is free to decide which of the two is the better decision or even reject both and come up with its own rule. That is because decisions of an appeals court outside the district in which the trial court is located are not binding on that court. They are persuasive authority only.
 
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adjusterjack

It's a Dry Heat
#11
Adjuster, respectfully if I have a question about traffic court I'll post it in the traffic forum and you can have your change to speculate there. I don't want this threat to get highjacked based on your assumptions on how you want to interpret the reasoning behind the opening post.
I wouldn't have to assume anything if you provided details about the case. First you referred to speed traps so I assumed traffic court, now you refer to auto sales so I'm assuming debt. Maybe I'm wrong on both counts. Bottom line: The information you get here is only as good as the information you give. GIGO.

As Zigner wrote:

If you have a specific legal matter, please post some facts relating to the matter. Answering questions in a vacuum is not helpful for anyone.
 
#12
Country or county? Case law from another country (e.g. a nation other than the U.S.) is never binding on a U.S. court. So if you cited a case from outside the U.S. you can expect that it won't be given a whole lot of weight by a court in the U.S.

If what you really meant was county then understand that in California the appeals courts are divided into 6 different districts, each covering a different group of counties. If the trial court is in a county that is covered by say the Sixth District Court of Appeal then decisions of the Sixth District would be binding on the trial court and it would have to abide by the decisions of that district. So in that case if you cited a case from the 2nd District that conflicted with a decision from the 6th District, the court would have to rely on the 6th District opinion and could not use the one you cited from the 2nd district.

Now, if instead you cited a case from the second district and there were no cases on point from the 6th district, but there was a case from the 4th district on the the matter that conflicted with the second district opinion then the trial court is free to decide which of the two is the better decision or even reject both and come up with its own rule. That is because decisions of an appeals court outside the district in which the trial court is located are not binding on that court. They are persuasive authority only.
Thank you very much Taxing. That's very helpful again. So in the scope of the caselaw above when it speaks of a Higher court it is only within the scope of its own district correct?

That is two say if you're in District Six and there is only one case law in district Two, your understanding is that it's secondary persuasive?

To clarify, I may be reading this incorrectly but does the src below conflict with that logic? (I bolded the point below)

A superior court appellate panel, analyzing a court of appeal decision, stated: “With due respect to the District Court of Appeals which decided the Kruiss case, it is the opinion of this [Superior] Court that the decision therein is erroneous.” This occurred in 1962, and resulted in the oft-cited principle that: “Under the doctrine of stare decisis, all tribunals exercising inferior jurisdiction are required to follow decisions of courts exercising superior jurisdiction. Otherwise, the doctrine of stare decisis makes no sense.” (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450, 455 (“Auto Equity”.)

Stare decisis means “The decisions of [the Supreme Court] are binding upon and must be followed by all the state courts of California. Decisions of every division of the District Courts of Appeal are binding upon all the justice and municipal courts and upon all the superior courts of this state, and this is so whether or not the superior court is acting as a trial or appellate court. Courts exercising inferior jurisdiction must accept the law declared by courts of superior jurisdiction. It is not their function to attempt to overrule decisions of a higher court.” (Ibid.)
SRC = http://www.saraballman.com/pdf/Marin_Lawyer_April_2011_-_Stare_Decisis.pdf
SRC = http://www.christian-attorney.net/appellate_case_conflict_california.html
 
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#13
Thank you very much Taxing. That's very helpful again. So in the scope of the caselaw above when it speaks of a Higher court it is only within the scope of its own district correct?
You had previously asked about cases that conflict. In California, unlike in the federal system, where there is but one case from a district court of appeals that is on point, all the lower courts of the state must apply that decision even if that district court of appeals is not the one in which the lower court sits. Of course, on appeal the district court of appeals that covers that district might come up with a different rule than the other district court did, since the decisions of one district court of appeal do not bind the other district courts of appeals.