Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Over in Limited Civil ...

CACH LLC v. Rogers, No. 56-2012-00420026-CL-CL-VTA (Ventura App. Div. Aug. 26, 2104)

The Code of Civil Procedure affords simplified trial procedures for limited civil cases—those where less than $25,000 is at issue. One of those procedures, in § 98, permits a party to submit direct testimony by declaration, provided the declarant agrees to be subject to service in some place within 150 miles of the courthouse, so he, she, or it can be subpoenaed for cross-examination at trial. The point is to avoid burdening certain witnesses—like custodians of records—who are unlikely to face serious cross at trial.

Here the declarant—a company offering documentary evidence—was from Colorado, but agreed to take service at its attorney’s office in Woodland Hills. Problem is, when service was attempted, the attorney’s office wouldn’t take it, claiming that the client didn’t work there. The court
following a similar appellate division caseholds that the trial court should not have accepted the declaration. If the declarant isn’t actually available for effective service at the location provided, § 98 isn’t satisfied and the declaration testimony (including attached documents) can’t come in. Any other result would interfere with the right to cross examine witnesses at trial.


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