Basic Appellate Principles: “Abuse of Discretion” Standard of Review

Basic Appellate Principles:


“Abuse of Discretion” Standard of Review


Trial courts are granted discretion to rule in a number of situations. For example: the granting or denying of a preliminary injunction; whether to stay or deny contractual arbitration; whether to disqualify an attorney because of a conflict of interest; attorney fee awards; discovery rulings; certain evidentiary rulings; continuances of trial or other hearings; and support orders in the family law context, among other things.


“The abuse of discretion standard…measures whether, given the established evidence, the act of the [trial court] falls within the permissible range of options set by the legal criteria. ‘The scope of discretion always resides in the particular law being applied, i.e., in the ‘legal principles governing the subject of the action….’ Action that transgresses the confines of the applicable principles of law is outside the scope of discretion and we call such action an ‘abuse’ of discretion.’ [Citation.]” (Department of Parks & Recreations v. State Personnel Bd. (1991) 233 Cal.App.3d 813, 830-831.)


“…The appropriate test for abuse of discretion is whether the trial court exceeded the bounds of reason. When two or more inferences can reasonably be deduced from the facts, the reviewing court has no authority to substitute its decision for that of the trial court.” (Walker v. Superior Court (1991) 53 Cal.3d 257, 272; Shamblin v. Brattain (1988) 44 Cal.3d 474,478-479)