Responses to special interrogatories in California

Responses to special interrogatories in California are the topic of this blog post.

The statutes governing special interrogatories in California are found in Code of Civil Procedure sections 2030.010, et seq.

Any responses to special interrogatories in California must be verified, and must be served on the requesting party within thirty (30) days after service of the special interrogatories if they were personally served, or within thirty five (35) days if the special interrogatories were served by mail. Note that these time limits do NOT apply to unlawful detainer actions which are five (5) days if the requests were personally served or ten (10) days if the requests were served by mail.

Code of Civil Procedure § 2033.210 states that,

“(a) The party to whom interrogatories have been propounded shall respond in writing under oath separately to each interrogatory by any of the following:

(1) An answer containing the information sought to be discovered.

(2) An exercise of the party’s option to produce writings.

(3) An objection to the particular interrogatory.

(b) In the first paragraph of the response immediately below the title of the case, there shall appear the identity of the responding party, the set number, and the identity of the propounding party.

(c) Each answer, exercise of option, or objection in the response shall bear the same identifying number or letter and be in the same sequence as the corresponding interrogatory, but the text of that interrogatory need not be repeated.”

Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.220 states that,

“(a) Each answer in a response to interrogatories shall be as complete and straightforward as the information reasonably available to the responding party permits.

(b) If an interrogatory cannot be answered completely, it shall be answered to the extent possible.

(c) If the responding party does not have personal knowledge sufficient to respond fully to an interrogatory, that party shall so state, but shall make a reasonable and good faith effort to obtain the information by inquiry to other natural persons or organizations, except where the information is equally available to the propounding party.”

There are certain format restrictions on special interrogatories. No special interrogatory may contain subparts, or a compound, conjunctive or disjunctive question. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.060. This means that a special interrogatory cannot contain part a, b, c, etc., nor can it contain a question with more than one part, and it cannot contain the word “and” which is conjunctive, it also cannot contain the word “or” which is disjunctive.

While I do not recommend getting too “nitpicky” with objections if a special interrogatory for example contains part a, b, c, etc., in my personal opinion that is sufficient grounds for objecting on that basis in the responses to special interrogatories in California .

Any objections in responses to special interrogatories in California  should clearly set forth the specific ground for the objection, and if only part of the special interrogatory is objectionable, the remainder of the special interrogatory must be answered. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.240.

Attorneys or parties in California who wish to view a portion of 16 page sample responses to special interrogatories containing brief instructions, sample objections, a verification and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like more information on a sample California discovery litigation document package containing over 35 sample documents including sample responses to special interrogatories sold by the author can use the link shown below.

http://legaldocspro.net/california-discovery-litigation-document-package/

The author of this log post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

 You can view sample legal document packages for sale at: http://legaldocspro.net

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

 

 

 

Special interrogatories in a California divorce

Special interrogatories in a California divorce are the topic of this blog post.

Special interrogatories in a California divorce or other family law proceeding under the Family Code are allowed as parties can utilize the same discovery procedures as are used in California civil litigation as the same rules and procedures are applicable unless another statute or rule has been adopted by the California Judicial Council.  See Family Code § 210.

The use of special interrogatories in a California divorce is an excellent tool that is overlooked by many parties and even some attorneys because they are under the mistaken impression that the official Judicial Council Form Interrogatories-Family Law designed for use in family law proceedings cover “almost everything.”

I am the first person to admit that the Judicial Council Form Interrogatories-Family Law are very useful but I also realize that they simply do not cover certain common issues that are commonly found in contested divorces in California. These issues include as custody issues as well requests for attorney’s fees and spousal support by a party.

If you are serious about making the most of discovery in your divorce or other family law case you should definitely use special interrogatories. The reason that you should use them is that they can make the difference between winning and losing your case. The brutal reality is that if you fail to propound enough discovery requests in a divorce you may not obtain the results at the trial that you were hoping for on a case which could have been won at trial. You may also lose any chance that you may have had of reaching a reasonable settlement before trial.

The California statutes that govern special interrogatories are found in Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010, et seq.

Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010 states that, “(a) Any party may obtain discovery within the scope delimited by Chapters 2 (commencing with Section 2017.010) and 3 (commencing with Section 2017.710), and subject to the restrictions set forth in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2019.010), by propounding to any other party to the action written interrogatories to be answered under oath. (b) An interrogatory may relate to whether another party is making a certain contention, or to the facts, witnesses, and writings on which a contention is based. An interrogatory is not objectionable because an answer to it involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, or would be based on information obtained or legal theories developed in anticipation of litigation or in preparation for trial.”

California law states that a defendant (or a respondent) in a litigation case may propound special interrogatories at any time. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.020(a). However a petitioner in a divorce or other family law case may not do so until at least ten (10) days have passed since service of the summons on the respondent, or their general appearance, whichever occurs first. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.020(b).

Discussed below will be some very important statutory restrictions that you must follow when drafting special interrogatories in California.

The most important statutory restriction in California is the numerical limit of thirty five (35) on the number of special interrogatories. However if a supporting declaration stating that any additional interrogatories are warranted due to the complexity of the case and other certain factors is attached, any party may propound more additional special interrogatories. See Code of Civil Procedure §§ 2030.030 and 2030.050.

The restrictions on format of special interrogatories in California are the restrictions on format are another statutory restriction.

For instance California law states that no specially prepared interrogatory can contain subparts, or a compound, conjunctive or disjunctive question. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.060. The effect of this restriction is that a special interrogatory cannot contain part a, b, c, etc., nor can it contain a question with more than one part, and it cannot contain the word “and” which is conjunctive, it also cannot contain the word “or” which is disjunctive. Although many parties and attorneys draft special interrogatories that do violate these format rules that is a bad idea as you run the risk of the responding party interposing objections to the interrogatories on those grounds.

Depositions are excellent tools but they do have their limitations. These limitations include the fact that you cannot ask a party in a deposition to state all facts, list all witnesses and identify all documents that support or pertain to any particular contention in that party’s pleadings, although that information is discoverable when sought by written interrogatory. Rifkind v. Superior Court (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1257 (emphasis added).

The law is settled in California that that the scope of discovery is very broad and that any doubts will be applied liberally in favor of discovery.

These rules are applied liberally in favor of discovery. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 785, 790, and (contrary to popular belief), fishing expeditions are permissible in some cases. Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 355, 385, (“although fishing may be improper or abused in some cases that “is not of itself an indictment of the fishing expedition per se”.)

I cannot emphasize enough that if you properly use special interrogatories in a California divorce you will discover that they are an excellent tool for (1) evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case; (2) preparing for trial, and (3) facilitating settlement.

Special interrogatories are particularly useful for ascertaining the facts, witnesses and documents that support the opposing party’s claims or defenses.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like to view a portion of sample special interrogatories which are 14 pages and includes brief instructions, 40 sample interrogatories, sample declaration for additional discovery and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like more information on a California divorce litigation document package containing over 45 sample documents including sample special interrogatories can use the link shown below.

California divorce litigation document package

The author of this log post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

 You can view sample legal document packages for sale at: http://legaldocspro.net

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

 

 

New meet and confer requirements for demurrers in California

The new meet and confer requirements for demurrers in California are the topic of this blog post.

Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41 is the new code section imposing the meet and confer requirements for demurrers in California which was added by statute in 2015 and just became effective on January 1, 2016.

California law now imposes a meet and confer requirement before filing most demurrers to a complaint, cross-complaint or answer pursuant to the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41.

While doing research just this week I became aware of these new  requirements to meet and confer for demurrers in California imposed by Code of Civil Procedure section 430.41 before filing most demurrers and wanted to share it all of my blog readers as soon as possible. This code section now imposes a meet and confer requirement before filing most demurrers to a complaint, cross-complaint or answer. The meet and confer effort must be made at least five days before your responsive pleading is due.

However there are two situations in which this meet and confer requirement does NOT apply which are (1) An action in which a party not represented by counsel is incarcerated in a local, state, or federal correctional institution and (2) A proceeding in forcible entry, forcible detainer, or unlawful detainer.

This code section was most likely enacted by the California legislature in the hopes that it would reduce the number of demurrers that are filed by imposing a requirement to meet and confer before most demurrers can be filed.

Code of Civil Procedure section 431.41 has both good and bad points in my personal opinion. The bad points are that even though this code section is so new that some Judges might not require strict compliance with its terms right away it is still better to be safe than to be sorry as some Judges can be quite strict. The good points are that if you meet and confer as required and the other party or attorney does not respond, or will not meet and confer in good faith you can file and serve a declaration on or before the date that your responsive pleading is due detailing your efforts and that will give you an automatic 30-day extension of time to file a responsive pleading.

Code of Civil Procedure § 430.41 states that,

(a) Before filing a demurrer pursuant to this chapter, the demurring party shall meet and confer in person or by telephone with the party who filed the pleading that is subject to demurrer for the purpose of determining whether an agreement can be reached that would resolve the objections to be raised in the demurrer. If an amended complaint, cross-complaint, or answer is filed, the responding party shall meet and confer again with the party who filed the amended pleading before filing a demurrer to the amended pleading.

(1) As part of the meet and confer process, the demurring party shall identify all of the specific causes of action that it believes are subject to demurrer and identify with legal support the basis of the deficiencies. The party who filed the complaint, cross-complaint, or answer shall provide legal support for its position that the pleading is legally sufficient or, in the alternative, how the complaint, cross-complaint, or answer could be amended to cure any legal insufficiency.

(2) The parties shall meet and confer at least five days before the date the responsive pleading is due. If the parties are not able to meet and confer at least five days prior to the date the responsive pleading is due, the demurring party shall be granted an automatic 30-day extension of time within which to file a responsive pleading, by filing and serving, on or before the date on which a demurrer would be due, a declaration stating under penalty of perjury that a good faith attempt to meet and confer was made and explaining the reasons why the parties could not meet and confer. The 30-day extension shall commence from the date the responsive pleading was previously due, and the demurring party shall not be subject to default during the period of the extension. Any further extensions shall be obtained by court order upon a showing of good cause.

(3) The demurring party shall file and serve with the demurrer a declaration stating either of the following:

(A) The means by which the demurring party met and conferred with the party who filed the pleading subject to demurrer, and that the parties did not reach an agreement resolving the objections raised in the demurrer.

(B) That the party who filed the pleading subject to demurrer failed to respond to the meet and confer request of the demurring party or otherwise failed to meet and confer in good faith.

(4) Any determination by the court that the meet and confer process was insufficient shall not be grounds to overrule or sustain a demurrer.

(b) A party demurring to a pleading that has been amended after a demurrer to an earlier version of the pleading was sustained shall not demur to any portion of the amended complaint, cross-complaint, or answer on grounds that could have been raised by demurrer to the earlier version of the complaint, cross-complaint, or answer.

(c) If a court sustains a demurrer to one or more causes of action and grants leave to amend, the court may order a conference of the parties before an amended complaint or cross-complaint or a demurrer to an amended complaint or cross-complaint, may be filed. If a conference is held, the court shall not preclude a party from filing a demurrer and the time to file a demurrer shall not begin until after the conference has concluded. Nothing in this section prohibits the court from ordering a conference on its own motion at any time or prevents a party from requesting that the court order a conference to be held.

(d) This section does not apply to the following civil actions:

(1) An action in which a party not represented by counsel is incarcerated in a local, state, or federal correctional institution.

(2) A proceeding in forcible entry, forcible detainer, or unlawful detainer.

(e) (1) In response to a demurrer and prior to the case being at issue, a complaint or cross-complaint shall not be amended more than three times, absent an offer to the trial court as to such additional facts to be pleaded that there is a reasonable possibility the defect can be cured to state a cause of action. The three-amendment limit shall not include an amendment made without leave of the court pursuant to Section 472, provided the amendment is made before a demurrer to the original complaint or cross-complaint is filed.

(2) Nothing in this section affects the rights of a party to amend its pleading or respond to an amended pleading after the case is at issue.

(f) Nothing in this section affects appellate review or the rights of a party pursuant to Section 430.80.

(g) If a demurrer is overruled as to a cause of action and that cause of action is not further amended, the demurring party preserves its right to appeal after final judgment without filing a further demurrer.

(h) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2021, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2021, deletes or extends that date.”

Attorneys or parties in California that would like to view a FREE sample declaration regarding compliance with the meet and confer requirements of Code of Civil Procedure § 430.41 which I am offering in Microsoft Word format. The sample includes brief instructions, sample wording and a proof of service by mail. To view the declaration please see below.

The author of this log post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

 You can view sample legal document packages for sale at: http://legaldocspro.net

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

 

Special interrogatories in a California eviction

Special interrogatories in a California eviction are the topic of this blog post.

Because special interrogatories in a California eviction can  be such an excellent tool for obtaining the facts, witnesses and documents on which the contentions of a party are based you should consider propounding special interrogatories in your California eviction, particularly if it is an eviction after foreclosure in California.

In my personal opinion special interrogatories in a California eviction are overlooked by many defendants or their attorneys on the mistaken belief that the Form Interrogatories cover “almost everything.”

I do agree that the Form Interrogatories for a California eviction are quite detailed but the simple fact is that they do not cover certain topics such as would be involved in an eviction after foreclosure or a complicated commercial eviction to use but two examples.

Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010, et seq are the California statutes that govern special interrogatories.

Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010 states that, “(a) Any party may obtain discovery within the scope delimited by Chapters 2 (commencing with Section 2017.010) and 3 (commencing with Section 2017.710), and subject to the restrictions set forth in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2019.010), by propounding to any other party to the action written interrogatories to be answered under oath. (b) An interrogatory may relate to whether another party is making a certain contention, or to the facts, witnesses, and writings on which a contention is based. An interrogatory is not objectionable because an answer to it involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, or would be based on information obtained or legal theories developed in anticipation of litigation or in preparation for trial.”

A defendant may propound special interrogatories at any time, however a plaintiff may not do so until at least five (5) days have passed since service of the summons on the defendant, or the general appearance by the defendant, whichever occurs first. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.020(c).

I do want to stress now that there are some statutory restrictions on the use of special interrogatories in California which I will discuss below.

There is a numerical limit of thirty five (35) on the number of special interrogatories. However if a supporting declaration stating that any additional interrogatories are warranted due to the complexity of the case and other certain factors is attached, any party may propound more additional special interrogatories. See Code of Civil Procedure §§ 2030.030 and 2030.050.

Another statutory restriction on special interrogatories is the restrictions on format. For example in California no specially prepared interrogatory can contain subparts, or a compound, conjunctive or disjunctive question. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.060. This means that a special interrogatory cannot contain part a, b, c, etc., nor can it contain a question with more than one part, and it cannot contain the word “and” which is conjunctive, it also cannot contain the word “or” which is disjunctive. Although many special interrogatories do violate these format rules I need to warn you that if you do use that type of format you run the risk of the responding party interposing objections to the interrogatories on those grounds.

While a deposition is a vital tool they also have their limitations such as the fact that you cannot ask someone in a deposition to state all facts, list all witnesses and identify all documents that support or pertain to any particular contention in that party’s pleadings, although that information is discoverable when sought by written interrogatory.   Rifkind v. Superior Court (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1257 (emphasis added).

It is settled law in California that the scope of discovery is very broad. Any doubts will be applied liberally in favor of discovery.

These rules are applied liberally in favor of discovery.  Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 785, 790, and (contrary to popular belief), fishing expeditions are permissible in some cases.  Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 355, 385, (“although fishing may be improper or abused in some cases, that “is not of itself an indictment of the fishing expedition per se”.)

Attorneys or parties in California that would like to view a portion of sample special interrogatories which is 17 pages and includes brief instructions, sample interrogatories, declaration for additional discovery and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.

For more information on a California eviction document collection containing over 25 sample documents including  sample special interrogatories sold by the author at a huge discount click the link shown below.

http://legaldocspro.net/california-eviction-litigation-document-package/

The author of this log post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

 You can view sample legal document packages for sale at: http://legaldocspro.net

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

Motion in limine in eviction after foreclosure in California

A motion in limine in eviction after foreclosure in California is the topic of this blog post.

A motion in limine in eviction after foreclosure in California is authorized by Code of Civil Procedure section 128(a)(3)(8) as well as Evidence Code sections 353 and 400, et seq., and other ample case law.

If you use a motion in limine to exclude all evidence in an appropriate situation you will find that is an excellent tool that could result in a huge win for you if you are the defendant in any eviction after foreclosure in California.

One ground for filing a motion in limine that is commonly used would be on the grounds that the evidence offered by the plaintiff is inadmissible and should be excluded as the unlawful detainer complaint fails to disclose how the plaintiff complied with Civil Code sections 2932.5 and 2924 and on the further grounds that any documents offered by plaintiff are hearsay as the facts in the documents offered by plaintiff are disputed and therefore there are no issues of fact for which any relevant evidence might be admitted at the trial. The motion in limine can also request that the case be dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiff cannot show duly perfected title due to the fact that no notice of substitution of trustee was ever served or recorded as required by Civil Code section 2934a, and as a result the plaintiff lacks standing as they are not the real party in interest and cannot state any valid cause of action for eviction after foreclosure.

One California Court of Appeal has stated that the court’s inherent equity, supervisory, and administrative powers, as well as its inherent power to control litigation and conserve judicial resources allow the court to entertain a motion in limine to dismiss the entire action where the court believes that the plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action.

If you are considering filing a motion in limine you should first consult the local rules and the clerk in the department where the trial will be held as many local rules require a party to serve and file a motion in limine a certain number of days before the trial date.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like to view a portion of a sample 20 page motion in limine for an eviction after foreclosure that includes brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority, sample declaration and proposed order sold by the author can see below.

For more information on a California eviction document collection containing over 25 sample documents including a sample motion in limine sold by the author at a huge discount click the link shown below.

http://legaldocspro.net/california-eviction-litigation-document-package/

The author of this log post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

 You can view sample legal document packages for sale at: http://legaldocspro.net

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California and Federal litigation

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