If you have a judgment against a debtor and you want to do some judgment collection in another state, is personal jurisdiction an obstacle? Do you have to show the debtor has minimum contacts with the other state? No, says a new published case. We’ll consider the possible effects of this — they are surprising.
On the perennial topic of deadlines for posttrial motions and appeals, we found yet another exception — if you file a DQ motion, that tolls the posttrial deadlines. Jurisdictional my left foot.
And finally, a new anti-SLAPP case with an expansive application of the litigation privilege.
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Welcome to the California appellate podcast, a discussion of timely trial tips and the latest cases and news coming from the California Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court. And now your hosts, Tim Kowal and Jeff Lewis.
Jeff Lewis 0:17
Welcome, everyone. I am Jeff Lewis.
Tim Kowal 0:19
And I'm Tim Kowal both Jeff and I are certified appellate specialists and uncertified podcast co hosts, we try to bring our audience of trial and appellate attorney some news and insights they can use in their practice. If you find this podcast helpful, please recommend it to a colleague
Jeff Lewis 0:32
and find it unhelpful. Please send it on to your opposing counsel. And a quick thank you to our sponsor case. Tech's casetext is a legal research tool that harnesses AI and a lightning fast interface help lawyers find keys authority fast, I've been a subscriber of casetext since 2018. And I highly endorse their service listeners of our podcast will receive a 25% lifetime discount available to them if they sign up at casetext.com/calp. That's casetext.com/CALP. And a quick thank you to our listeners. We're nearing the end of November, and we've had another record breaking month of downloads. So please continue to recommend podcast to others. All right, Jeff.
Tim Kowal 1:07
So it's that time of month where we catch up ourselves and our listeners on some recent cases that might be of use in our practices. So the cases we're going to cover the first one, if you have a judgment against a debtor and you want to do some judgment collection in another state is personal jurisdiction and obstacle. Do you have to show that the debtor has minimum contacts with the other state? Well, the first case we're going to cover says no, we'll cover the possible effects of this. They are surprising, I think, right. And then we're going to move on to another case. On the perennial topic of deadlines for post trial motions and appeals, we find yet another exception if you file a disqualification motion that will told the post trial deadlines, jurisdictional deadlines, my left foot Jeff, and then finally, Jeff, you found a new anti slap case with an expansive application of the litigation privilege. Those are always important to have in your toolkit. All right, so let's first talk about w v. 23. Jumpstart LLC versus my Narsing. That's a November 2022 case there are there are momentous post judgment opportunities suggested in a published case, the court there held that an out of state money judgment may be domesticated in California, even though California lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant. There are two reasons you should take strong notice of this case, if other states follow this approach. First, judgments accrue interest at different rates depending on state law, so you should domesticate all your judgments in a high yield jurisdiction. The highest yield dates are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, all of which give post judgment interest rates at 12%. The other reason you should take notice of this case as a factor you should consider is that judgments lapse after a certain amount of time, depending on state laws in California judgment will lapse after 10 years unless you renew it. So you need to domesticate all your judgment or consider renewing or domesticating your judgments in a what I call stay fresh jurisdiction such that his judgments states where judgments expire only after a very long time. In Delaware, for example, Jeff, I learned that they never expire. So that a heck of a stay fresh jurisdiction. So you might consider whenever you have a judgment against a judgment debtor go ahead and domesticated in Delaware, because what will happen is it'll never expire. And if for some reason you forget to renew your judgment in California, you can just domesticate that domesticated Delaware judgment back in California today. All right. So here's just for background. Here's what happened in the Jumpstart case, Nevada had issued a one and a half million dollar judgment against some loan guarantors. The lenders then got the judgment domesticated in California. The Nevada judgment then expired a few years later in 2016. But the domesticated California judgment was still kicking around the Nevada based defendant mine arcic had no context or assets in California, as it turned out, jumpstart, then who became the assignee of the judgment wanted to resume enforcement efforts of the judgment against mine arcic Back in Nevada, but hey, the Nevada judgment had expired. It had been expired for several years by that time. So jumpstarted had this bright idea, why don't we just take the domesticated California judgment and then re domesticate it right back to its original form in Nevada, I thought that was a little bit like standing in a bucket and pulling yourself up by the handle but hey, it's worth a shot jumpstart figured and by now arcic, you know, I think reasonably raised a personal jurisdiction challenge to the California judgment and said, Hey, this judgment is no good against me. I don't have any person. I don't have any minimum contacts in California International Shoe International Shoe and all that the Sacramento Superior Court agreed with mine are sick. But the Court of Appeal reversed finding that a court does not need personal jurisdiction in order to domesticate a sister state judgment. And so that domesticated California judgment being valid plaintiff creditor was able to just take it right back to Nevada and domesticated as if that Nevada judgment had never expired in the first place. So I was curious to know what our listeners and what you Jeff think about this case and you think other states would follow this reasoning. This seems surprising to me because it seems surprising to you.
Jeff Lewis 5:04
Honestly, I'd say it's not all that surprising to me. You know, minimum contacts are due process considerations to make sure before you're held liable in a court that you have sufficient contacts with the state, the same concerns aren't really present for judgment enforcement. By the time you get to a judgment enforcement phase. Some trier of fact is already adjudicated you do processes already happen. The real question is, are there assets and should they be attached? And so I'm not surprised by this result, I do wonder, I always gotta look at the anti slap angle. Lots of people avoid filing lawsuits in California to avoid it's powerful anti slap law. And so I wonder if someone could go after defendant who lives in California in a different court for defamation, avoid anti slap laws, get a judgment and then waltz it back into California when it comes time for judgment enforcement?
Tim Kowal 5:50
Yeah, yeah. Well, that kind of neck kind of strategizing is came to mind when when I read this case, and I thought, well, if you got a judgment in California against the debtor, why not just take it? I mean, California has pretty generous post judgment interest rate at 10%. But if what's stopping you from from going ahead and getting a couple extra points on that and domesticating it in another state like Massachusetts, or Rhode Island, Vermont, or Washington, get it to 12%. And then once you find the cash, hoard, or civil assets, just can read domesticate that judgment back in California after it's been accruing interest at 12%. And then you've maximized your benefit.
Jeff Lewis 6:23
I guess that strategy works for hypothetical client with infinite patience. I haven't met such a client before.
Tim Kowal 6:29
Yeah. Okay. Let's move on to the next case about disqualification motions while post trial motions are pending. This is a little bit of a wonky issue, Jeff, so buckle up. You have to be a little bit nerdy to define this interesting, but simple. Yeah, I think we qualify, and a lot of our listeners qualify. There have been some cynics, Jeff that have suggested that the jurisdictional deadline were jurisdictional, be put in scare, quote, because the jurisdictional deadlines are only as jurisdictional, as the courts want it to be Court recently acknowledged that this supposedly ironclad rule is in fact riddled with exceptions. And here is yet another exception. We already knew that when a motion for new trial is filed, that extends the time to appeal by 30 days after the motion is denied. We already knew that the trial court's deadline to deny the motion is 75 days after service of the Notice of Entry of Judgment. That's all laid out pretty clearly in the rules of court 8.1 await and Code of Civil Procedure section 660. And these rules are treated as jurisdictional.
Jeff Lewis 7:26
Absolutely cannot be changed under any circumstance. Next story.
Tim Kowal 7:30
Yep. But But wait, Jeff, but if a party files a motion to disqualify the trial judge before the judge gets around to denying the motion for new trial, that tolls that 75 day period. So that's what happened in the Fourth District Court of Appeal case of gearing versus Garfield beach CVS, it's a November 2022. Case. It's an unpublished opinion after the trial court there had Nan suited the plaintiffs case the plaintiff moved for a new trial. But then three weeks later, and before the court had had a chance to rule on the new trial motion, the plaintiff moved to disqualify the trial judge. The opinion doesn't lay out the grounds for the disqualification motion, but apparently it was timely and well formed because it was sent over to another Superior Court Judge of a different county who ruled on it on the merits. But
Jeff Lewis 8:14
I wonder if somebody could use sham patently frivolous peremptory challenge to the judge or a for cause challenge of the judge to toll the statute? Toll the timing here. And if during the pendency before a judge rules on the timeliness of that challenge, whether or not these jurisdictional deadlines were told, but I'm sorry, go ahead.
Tim Kowal 8:34
Yeah, well, those untimely or malformed one 70.6, is if anything, the courts are pretty good at disposing of them pretty timely. But if it's a one 70.1, for example, and it has to be, you know, the allegations have to be evaluated on their substance. So under the normal rule, the motion for new trial would have been deemed denied automatically after the 75th day, but at that time, in this case, the disqualification motion was still pending. So even though the plaintiff filed her appeal within 30 days after the exonerated trial judge denied the new trial motion. The defendant argued that this was too late tried to get the appeal dismissed. But the Court of Appeal disagreed and said that the appeal was timely the disqualified because the disqualification motion had told the judges time to act on that post trial motion. So even though the rules of court at section 660 of the Code of Civil Procedure provide in case law provide the timeline is jurisdictional. We found another way that we can extend those jurisdictional deadlines and that's by filing a disqualification motion while a post trial motion is pending. Right? Right. One would expect one would hope that it's doesn't come up all the time, but it's these little unthought of exceptions that do tend to undermine the jurisdictional pneus of these rules.
Jeff Lewis 9:45
Yeah, and attention State Bar. This would make a great question for the appellate specialization exam.
Tim Kowal 9:51
Well, you really want to create a barrier to entry, don't you Jeff? Okay, and let's see what was The third case we're going to talk about today. Jeff, do you want to talk about this new anti slap case and the expansive new litigation privilege?
Jeff Lewis 10:08
Yeah, it's an interesting case arising from Orange County ruling by Judge Gregory Lewis No relation. The case is Timothy W vs. Julie W. It came out in October but it was ordered published in late November. And here's the setup. In a divorce proceeding, a wife hired a private investigator to do some digging around her soon to be ex husband's finances and some of his legal troubles some interactions he had with the FBI. And in the course of hiring this private investigator, the wife tells the private investigator an embarrassing fact that she learned from her husband during the course of their marriage, and the PII the private investigator in the course of this investigation discloses that embarrassing fact to other people that he's speaking to in the course of his investigation, and it gets back to the husband this PI's out there spreading information about the Husband Husband filed a lawsuit including 12 causes of action against his soon to be ex wife and the private investigator. And the life in the private investigator filed an anti slap motion arguing this is all covered by litigation privilege, private investigations part of the dissolution proceeding, trial court judge Louis granted the anti slap motion part grand like 10 out of the 12 cause of actions were dismissed granted six figures and attorneys fees and on appeal, everybody appealed. Everybody appealed the fees, everybody appealed partial victory on the slap. Enough, exactly. On appeal, the Court of Appeal found that the anti slap motion should have been granted in their entirety. And here are the things that I found interesting about the opinion, the Court held that all the husband's claims against his wife and her private investigator were barred by the litigation privilege, because the private investigator was hired to investigate the husband and the husband's finances and his legal troubles in connection with the pending divorce. And the court held that the act of hiring a private investigator is protected activity. I buy that and well I also buy that communications by the wife to the PII Hey, this is what my husband is or does I buy that that's protected? Yeah. The court went a little further and said that when the private investigator is out in the field, speaking with third parties weren't party to the case that those communications by the private investigator, it's not an attorney to a third party about husband that those were protected by the litigation privilege. I found that interesting and expensive.
Tim Kowal 12:21
I find that interesting and expansive as well. I don't understand the jurors the justification for why the litigation privilege needs to expand so far as to it expands to gossip by the professional. I mean, that seems unethical, doesn't it?
Jeff Lewis 12:33
Well, so. So here's the interesting thing. But the next thing about the opinion is the Court of Appeal never discloses to the dear reader what the actual embarrassing information is, what it is that the wife learn from husband and what the wife shared of the pie and the pie ultimately shared with third parties. And I wonder how the court can conduct a proper analysis of whether the lawsuit arises from protected activity without disclosing that fact? How can you decide that, for example, when the pie is speaking to a third party about blah, blah, blah? Yeah, what, blah, blah, blah, is is very important to determine this nexus between the litigation and the PII surfaces. Yeah, the whole
Tim Kowal 13:09
point of the litigation privilege is we need to be able to talk freely about this information to adjudicate these things. But we don't want to talk about this, because it's not relevant to the case. And it's just purely embarrassing isn't a kind of it seems like a tacit admission that he shouldn't have been talking about this stuff. This was just doing dirt on the on the husband, I will
Jeff Lewis 13:25
say this, there are lots of motions to seal the trial court and the court of appeals level. It perhaps the Court of Appeal did this analysis, but just didn't discuss it in its opinion, but they did the analysis. But I do note the case was published why publish a case that doesn't disclose the secret, the value or the use of the case in terms of precedent is a little bit limited if you don't know what the PII was exactly talking about. And the state of the law is right now with this case that communications either to or by a private investigator are subjected to the litigation privilege without too much resort to what he was saying.
Tim Kowal 13:58
Yeah, again, Jeff, I find myself I think it's the second case in a row we talked about on the podcast where we talked about a case where again, I'm philosophically opposed to unpublishing cases, but I kind of wish someone would file a motion to de publish this case.
Jeff Lewis 14:11
Well, you know, I always like to bring up slap cases. And then I secondarily always like to bring up cases where I can pin you to the corner and find cases that need to be republished.
Tim Kowal 14:21
You found two recently. All right, well, that's an interesting one. That's definitely one to go and your lawyers toolkit concerning the newly expanded version of the litigation privilege. It includes information disclosed to a professional who goes off and then squawks to third parties merely apparently, was there any rationale for the PII to talk to these third parties, and it was just gossip.
Jeff Lewis 14:41
Well, that's the thing. I mean, the discussion of the opinion suggests that it was necessary the Court of Appeal clearly assumed it was necessary, but unless you know what it is the big secret, do we really know if it was necessary,
Tim Kowal 14:54
talking about the identity of the third parties or their roles whether they had a role in the case? If
Jeff Lewis 15:00
Third parties did not have a role in the case, but they were really they had relationships with the players here. And, you know, it could have been a fact that was revealed in order to coerce a witness to speak to a private investigator. God. Okay. I don't know. And when such coercion be subject to litigation privilege, I
Tim Kowal 15:15
don't know. Yeah. Okay. Well, very interesting. Okay. Let's talk about a few tidbits here. Let's see, Jeff, you want to get us rolling with some recent news and tidbits?
Jeff Lewis 15:25
Sure. Let's talk about Judge Kelly Evans, who Governor Newsom appointed or nominated, I should say to the Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, also known as the genii commission rated judge now justice Evans as well qualified for service on the California Supreme Court, and well qualified is good, but it's second to be exceptionally well qualified on the Jenny Commission's rating scales. Jenny report had a long narrative report about justice Evans his career and gave her great accolades doesn't really explain why an exceptionally well qualified rating was withheld from Judge Evans. It's interesting.
Tim Kowal 16:02
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I thought this was of a piece with some other news we've been seeing. Here's another another tidbit. Judge Rawlinson says that schools law schools should ask themselves if the LSAT should be given less weight in their admissions processes. Her comments come as the ABA considers a proposal that would give law schools the choice of whether to require LSAT scores in admissions. And proponents of the change say that the LSAT can exclude a more diverse applicant pool from the law schools. And this is of a piece with another story. Jeff, do you want to share about law schools and the US News and World Report ranking system?
Jeff Lewis 16:40
Yeah, well, let me just say getting back to the LSAT, I would not be a lawyer. If the LSAT were not considered as part of the law school admission process. I had a fantastic LSAT score and less than fantastic college grades. So I'm personally biased. As to that story. All right, let's talk about UCLA has announced that it's going to join a number of other colleges or law schools that are withdrawing their cooperation with US News, the ranking system for ranking all law schools, Cornell and University of Chicago have also announced that they're staying in but a number of high profile schools have said that they're not going to cooperate any more with the ranking systems. But US News has announced that it will continue to rank schools even if they don't cooperate.
Tim Kowal 17:24
Yeah, that's right. You may not be interested in US News and World Report, but US News and World Report is interested in you.
Jeff Lewis 17:31
Right, right. And then we want to talk about a piece by Myron Moscowitz, where he called on justices to include more dissents in their pieces. Justice Moscowitz had a piece arguing that justices should dissent rather than simply sign on to decisions that they don't agree with the justice remains unconvinced on a significant issue. A judge should say so and tell the public about it to send work concurrence. What did you think about Myron Moskowitz piece?
Tim Kowal 17:57
Yeah, I liked his piece, I thought if there's an upside to having a body of non published opinions, and Jeff, you know that I've gone on record as being as having misgivings about the non published opinion protocol. But if there's an upside, it's that these non published opinions should be a safe space for justices to speak their minds freely. If there is no need to shape binding decisional law in a published decision or to mold a consensus, then why not just let her rip until the public what the Justice really thinks?
Jeff Lewis 18:23
Well, yeah, you know, some retired justices have let us know and appellate practice judges and let us know that dissents is a great way to attract the attention of the California Supreme Court in terms of getting review. And so having more dissents is a way for a dissenting justice to signal to the Supreme Court that change is needed.
Tim Kowal 18:40
That's right. All right. Well, that wraps up this episode, we want to again, thank casetext for sponsoring the podcast each week, we include links to the cases that we discussed using casetext and listeners of the podcast can find a 25% lifetime discount available to them if they sign up at casetext.com/c A L P.
Jeff Lewis 19:00
And we are cooperating with us news in terms of podcast ranking, so I just wanted to let you know about that. And if you have suggestions for future episodes, please email us at info at Cal podcast.com. And in our upcoming episodes, look for tips on how to lay the groundwork for an appeal
Tim Kowal 19:13
when preparing for trial. All right, see you next time.
You have just listened to the California appellate podcast, a discussion of timely trial tips and the latest cases a news coming from the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court. For more information about the cases discussed in today's episode, our hosts and other episodes, visit the California appellate law podcast website at ca l podcast.com. That's c a l podcast.com. Thanks to Jonathan Cara for our intro music. Thank you for listening and please join us again