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Basic Appellate Principles: “De Novo” Standard of Review

Basic Appellate Principles:

 

De Novo” Standard of Review

 

“Matters presenting pure questions of law, not involving the resolution of disputed facts, are subject to the reviewing court’s independent or “de novo” review.” (Diamond Benefits Life Ins. Co. v. Troll (1998) 66 Cal.App4th 1, 5.) Examples of situations involving independent review are numerous:

 

  • Constitutional issues;
  • Interpretation of statutes and regulations;
  • Legislative validity;
  • Interpretation of writings where no conflicting extrinsic evidence presented;
  • Determining duty of care;
  • Application of the law to undisputed facts;
  • Rulings on demurrers or motions for judgment on the pleadings;
  • Rulings on motions for summary judgment or summary adjudication;
  • Rulings on nonsuit, judgments notwithstanding the verdict or for directed verdict;
  • Erroneous or refused jury instructions.

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Basic Appellate Principles: “Substantial Evidence” Standard of Review

Basic Appellate Principles:

 

“Substantial Evidence” Standard of Review

 

Your success on appeal is largely determined by the standard of review the court of appeal is going to employ to your case. There are several different standards of review, depending on the type of order or judgment for which you seek to appeal. One such standard of review is known as the “substantial evidence” standard of review. The court of appeal applies this standard where your appeal is from a judge or jury’s finding on any factual issue at trial or otherwise. (Windograd v. American Broadcasting Co. (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 624, 632; Alderson v. Alderson (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 450, 465.) Read more

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. Read more

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.)

Basic Appellate Principles: Presumption of Correctness and Burden of Appellant

Basic Appellate Principles:

 

Presumption of Correctness and Burden of Appellant

 

“A judgment or order of the lower court is presumed correct. All intendments and presumptions are indulged to support it on matters as to which the record is silent, and error must affirmatively be shown. This is not only a general principle of appellate practice but an ingredient of the constitutional doctrine of reversible error. [Citations.]” (Denham v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 557, 564, italics in the original.) Read more