Basic Appellate Principles: Standard of Review for Mixed Questions of Law and Fact

Basic Appellate Principles:

 

Standard of Review for Mixed Questions of Law and Fact

 

“Mixed questions of law and fact concern the application of the rule to the facts and the consequent determination whether the rule is satisfied. If the pertinent inquiry requires application of experience with human affairs, the question is predominantly factual and its determination is reviewed under the substantial-evidence test. If, by contrast, the inquiry requires a critical consideration, in a factual context, of legal principles and their underlying values, the question is predominantly legal and its determination is reviewed independently.” (Crocker National Bank v. City and County of San Francisco (1989) 49 Cal.3d 881, 888.)

 

“Whenever a question of mixed law and fact exists, three steps are involved: (1) the establishment of basic, primary or historical facts; (2) the selection of the applicable law; and (3) the application of the law to the facts. [Citation.] All three trial court determinations are subject to appellate review: (1) questions of fact are reviewed by giving deference to the trial court’s decision; (2) questions of law are reviewed under a non-deferential standard, affording plenary review; and (3) application of the law to facts is reviewed under a clearly erroneous standard if the inquiry is essentially factual.” (Smith v. Fresno Irrigation Dist. (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 147, 156-157.)