Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A writ tale

Here's an interesting writ tale: Trial court makes an evidentiary ruling that is challenged by a writ petition, which points out how the ruling contradicts established law. An alternative writ issues. A hearing is held per Brown, Winfield & Canzoneri, Inc. v. Superior Court (2010) 47 Cal.4th 1233, 1250, fn. 10. At the hearing, the court recognizes it erred, but elects not to comply with the alternative writ, accepting real party's argument that real party should be allowed to pursue its arguments in the Court of Appeal. 2/5 says "no, no, no." Quotes below:
At the hearing on the alternative writ, respondent court admitted it had “erred in excluding [the] declaration” under decisions of the Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court, and summary judgment should have been granted. Respondent court elected not to comply with the alternative writ because it concluded there is no harm in allowing the plaintiff “to at least make the argument in the court of appeal . . . .” We issue a peremptory writ of mandate, holding that respondent court breached its obligation to follow binding appellate authority. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450, 455.)
* * *
Respondent court had an obligation to follow binding authority of the California Supreme Court and the California Court of Appeal. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court, supra, 57 Cal.2d at p. 455.) Instead, respondent court deferred to Goranson’s suggestion that the court should not comply with the alternative writ because Goranson is the real party in interest, and he should be allowed to make his argument in a writ proceeding rather than appeal. Our alternative writ required respondent court to determine the legal issue presented in accordance with California law. The purported convenience of writ review to a party is not a component of the legal issue respondent court was directed to address. In any event, the asserted convenience of a party does not trump a trial court’s obligation to follow binding authority of California’s appellate courts.
Stay safe and follow instructions.

[For another lesson in following directions on remand, see here.]