Kowal Law Group Logo
wrong way

Use a settled statement to fill gaps in your record (but don’t try to rewrite the record)

Tim Kowal     April 4, 2023

Nice try, but this is not what a settled statement is for.

The defendant in **********Rok Mobile, Inc. v. Brannon (D2d2 Mar. 24, 2023 No. B308642) 2023 WL 2621771 was served with a complaint but failed to answer. In October, Brannon went into default, and five months later got a default judgment against him.

On appeal from the denial of his motion to set aside the judgment, Brannon came up with a clever application of the settled statement process. Remember that a settled statement is a summary description of the documents or oral proceedings in the trial court. Brannon put together a settled statement that said he never got notice of the October default.

But the settled statement contradicted the declaration of Rok's counsel in the written record. Rok’s counsel declared under penalty of perjury that he mailed Brannon the default the day the court clerk entered it. So the court concluded “We reject this use of the settled statement.”

Besides, the court went on, “nonreceipt of the notice [of default] shall not invalidate or constitute ground for setting aside any judgment.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 587; Rodriguez v. Henard (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 529, 537.)

Comment: You should still consider the appellant’s example here and use a settled statement to buttress your record. Do not use a settled statement to try to rewrite the record, of course. But if documents or an oral transcript are not available to clearly show what happened, consider using a settled statement.

Some good possible applications of a settled statement:

  • Show what happened during a sidebar
  • Describe a demonstrative exhibit
  • Describe what happened at a law-and-motion hearing
  • Capture your request for an evidentiary hearing or a statement of decision
  • Capture your objections to jury instructions
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.
Get “Not To Be Published,” a weekly digest of these articles, delivered directly to your inbox!
Subscribe

"So far as the beginnings of law had theories, the first theory of liability was in terms of a duty to buy off the vengeance of him to whom an injury had been done whether by oneself or by something in one's power. The idea is put strikingly in the Anglo-Saxon legal proverb, 'Buy spear from side or bear it,' that is, buy off the feud or fight it out."

— Roscoe Pound, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

"A judge is a law student who grades his own papers."

— H.L. Mencken

"At common law, barratry was 'the offense of frequently exciting and stirring up suits and quarrels' (4 Blackstone, Commentaries 134) and was punished as a misdemeanor."

Rubin v. Green (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1187

"Upon putting laws into writing, they became even harder to change than before, and a hundred legal fictions rose to reconcile them with reality."

— Will Durant

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."

— Plato (427-347 B.C.)

"It may be that the court is thought to be excessively legalistic. I should be sorry to think that it is anything else."

— Hon. Sir Owen Dixon, Chief Justice of Australia

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”

— James Madison, Federalist 62

Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly.

Leviticus

"Moot points have to be settled somehow, once they get thrust upon us. If an assertion cannot be proved, then it must be settled some other way, and nearly all of these ways are unfair to somebody."

—T.H. White, The Once and Future King

"God made the angels to show Him splendor, … Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind."

— Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons

"Counsel on the firing line in an actual trial must be prepared for surprises, including requests for amendments of pleading. They cannot ask that a judgment afterwards obtained be set aside merely because their equilibrium was slightly disturbed by an unexpected motion."

Posz v. Burchell (1962) 209 Cal.App.2d 324, 334

Copyright © 2024 Kowal Law Group
menuchevron-down
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram