(650) 735-2436   (209) 643-2436

Guaranteed Outcomes by California Attorneys (California Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1)

Here is a video I have on my Youtube channel where I go over guarantees a lawyer might make a client make ask for when it comes to the outcome of a case. In short, I argue that it’s not realistic for a client to ask their lawyer for a guaranteed outcome (e.g. the client will win at trial, etc). The reason is because that outcome will depend on many factors that are outside of the lawyer’s control. At a minimum, it will depend, for instance, on what evidence the opposing party or parties have, what witnesses will testify to, and the habits and idiosyncrasies of the judge and jury. In my experience, many clients don’t understand this and think incorrectly that they should hire a lawyer who gives a guarantee over a lawyer who does not. If you are in a position where a prospective attorney is offering you such a guarantee, it may be prudent to stop and ask yourself whether this attorney is just offering you the guarantee in order to get your business and your money. In this blog post, I’m going to add on to my video above by citing to some authority, specifically the California Rules of Professional Conduct (CPRC). I have a video on my Youtube channel about the CPRC also which I’ll embed below. That video is a bit old so it uses the old CPRC numbering scheme of a number, a dash, and additional numbers (e.g. Rule 3-100). The current CPRC scheme dispenses with the dashes in favor of decimal points (e.g. Rule 1.5). If any of you need it,...

California Dying Declarations (CA Evidence Code 1242)

In court, there are a ton of rules about what evidence can be used and what evidence can’t be used. In past posts, I’ve described how only relevant evidence (in California; in New York and under Federal law) can be used in court. What occurred in the real world is often not what is dealt with in court. Many laypeople are shocked to know this when they get involved with their first court case. In California state court, the set of rules that govern what evidence can and can’t be used is the California Evidence Code. In federal court, there are the Federal Rules of Evidence. The specific name varies, but every jurisdiction in the United States generally has its own set of evidence rules. One major component of the evidence rules — regardless of jurisdiction usually — is hearsay. Hearsay is easy to define — I learned it in law school as (1) statement, (2) made by a person, (3) outside of court, and (4) an attempt is being made to admit that evidence for the truth asserted therein. See section 1200 and onward in the California Evidence Code. These criteria are, obviously, fairly basic. As an aside, in the real world, it’s rare that you would quickly be able to tell if these criteria are satisfied. You’d likely have to answer some more nuanced questions first, such as “What exactly is a ‘statement’?” Anyway, aside over. If these 4 basic/simplified criteria are met, then the statement can’t be used in court… unless an exception of some kind applies. As many law students in the US — and...

California Statute of Limitations – Fraud

I recently put out a post about the statute of limitations that applies to a breach of contract case in California. In that post, I explained that a “statute of limitations” is the time period within which a plaintiff has to file their lawsuit. If they miss it — and can’t come up with a good tolling argument — then they will lose their case. Their evidence could be rock solid (e.g. the proverbial smoking gun), but they will lose simply because they waited too long. In this post, I’m going to continue that theme and discuss another statute of limitations. We’re talking about California again, but this time it’s the statute of limitations for a civil fraud suit. As an aside, my experience has been that fraud is alleged in cases way more often than it actually happens. Fraud — at least in California — has a very, very, very specific definition. If you’re going to allege it in a lawsuit, I would highly recommend that you look up that definition and know it back to front. Anyway, aside over. The statute of limitations for a civil fraud suit is 3 years. That’s section 338(d) of the California Code of Civil Procedure. As before, knowing that the proverbial clock is 3 years is only part of the solution. The other part is that you need to know when this 3 years starts. The answer to that is when the plaintiff discovers the fraud. That’s also in section 338(d) which provides: “The cause of action… is not deemed to have accrued until the discovery, by the aggrieved party, of...

Relevant Evidence in California (CA Evidence Code section 210)

It should hopefully not surprise anyone that evidence is important in legal disputes. The parties will inevitably say their own versions of what happened, but unless someone has evidence to back up what they’re saying, the outcome will likely disappoint all involved. Not all evidence is treated equal, however. The evidence in question has to be relevant to the dispute in order to be of interest to a judge, a jury, the lawyers, etc. In this post, I’m going to talk about what “relevant” means in California court cases. The definition, unfortunately, varies from state-to-state. New York has a different definition as does the Federal Court system. Hopefully, though, you can see that the definitions are similar, regardless of the jurisdiction. In California state court, relevance is defined in California Evidence Code section 210, which provides: “Relevant evidence” means evidence, including evidence relevant to the credibility of a witness or hearsay declarant, having any tendency in reason to prove or disprove any disputed fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action.” I bolded the end of that definition to highlight that ‘the tendency within reason to prove or disprove any disputed fact’ is the essence of what relevance means. Relevance is important because it limits what evidence can be admitted. Under section 350 of the California Evidence Code, only relevant evidence is admissible. In the abstract, this should hopefully make sense to everyone. It would be confusing and a waste of time and energy to admit or use evidence that is unrelated (i.e. is not relevant) to what the dispute or case is about. In practice,...

California Statute of Limitations – Breach of Contract

Contracts are super prevalent in everyday life. If you have a loan (e.g. for your car), then you likely have a contract specifying things like what you have to pay and when and what happens if you don’t pay when you’re supposed to. Companies rely on contracts to do business with one another all the time. I would posit that literally everything you buy has been made and transported to you by a series of companies that have contracts between them specifying what each company’s obligations are and what fee they want to be paid. Contracts, of course, aren’t perfect. When problems arise and a lawsuit needs to be filed over, say, one party not doing what they are supposed to under the contract, one thing that needs to be examined is whether it is too late to sue. The time limit in which you have to file a civil lawsuit is called a “Statute of Limitations.” This varies not only state, but also by the type of case you want to file. If you miss this statute of limitations and then try to file your case, you will almost certainly lose your case because you’ve waited too long. In certain rare situations, you might be able to make an argument for why the statute of limitations period should be paused for a period (e.g. one year). This is called “tolling” and, if successful, would extend the statute of limitations period by that same amount of time that the proverbial clock was paused. If you’re the plaintiff, the filing date of your case will hopefully be within this extended...

California Legal Protections for Reservists and Active Duty Servicemembers

If you are in the military in any way, you’re likely entitled to various legal protections under California law that — at least in theory — are meant to make it easier for you to perform your military service. These laws allow, for instance, may allow you to resume your old health insurance when your active duty service ends. It may allow you to enjoy a reduced interest rate on loans and other debts when you’re on active duty. There are housing-related benefits as well related to rental agreements and mortgages. In this post, I’m going to describe California’s laws in this area in a very general or high-level way. There are a lot of laws so I can’t go over all of them because if I did, this post would be enormous. As I make follow-on posts over time, however, I will probably hit a lot of these topics anyway. I am going to start this process by describing some common themes or ideas that all of these laws have that hopefully make it so all who are entitled to these benefits actually receive them. When working on cases in this area of California law, the first thing I ask is what kind of military member am I working with? By that, I mean is this person an active duty service member (e.g. Lance Corporal in the Marines), a member of the California National Guard, or a member of the Naval Reserves who has been called to active duty? As with anything in the law, technicalities and definitions like this can be important. The benefits provided are similar,...