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The appellate court that overruled a supreme court: Part 1 with John Sylvester

Tim Kowal     June 4, 2024

John Sylvester was the counsel of record in the controversial Abdelqader v. Abraham published opinion. Why was it controversial? Because the Court of Appeal thumbed its nose at the Supreme Court, which had held in F.P. v. Monier that just because the trial judge forgets to make a required written finding you don’t get an automatic get-a-new-trial-free card. Abdelqader held that, in custody matters, you do get an automatic get-a-new-trial-free card.

In this first part of our discussion, John lays out the all-important statement of decision process, and the constitutional mandate that led the Supreme Court to hold that a defective statement of decision doesn’t give you an automatic get-a-new-trial-free card.

That sets up part two of our discussion in the next episode in which we discuss analogous situations with the Racial Justice Act, and in the example of family law financial disclosures—where in a closely analogous situation the Court of Appeal held exactly the opposite of Abdelqader. John explains what attorneys are supposed to do with two conflicting authorities—with one of them being the Supreme Court.

John Sylvester’s biography and LinkedIn profile.

Appellate Specialist Jeff Lewis' biography, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed.

Appellate Specialist Tim Kowal's biography, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, and YouTube page.

Sign up for Not To Be Published, Tim Kowal’s weekly legal update, or view his blog of recent cases.

The California Appellate Law Podcast thanks Casetext for sponsoring the podcast. Listeners receive a discount on Casetext Basic Research at casetext.com/CALP. The co-hosts, Jeff and Tim, were also invited to try Casetext’s newest technology, CoCounsel, the world’s first AI legal assistant. You can discover CoCounsel for yourself with a demo and free trial at casetext.com/CoCounsel.

Other items discussed in the episode:

Tim Kowal is an appellate specialist certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Tim helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at CALpodcast.com, and publishes summaries of cases and appellate tips for trial attorneys. Contact Tim at [email protected] or (949) 676-9989.
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