1This topic of the newsletter this week is a request for a statement of decision in California pursuant toSection 632 of the Code of Civil Procedure. A statement of decision is where the Court states the legal bases for it’s decision on certain controverted issues. A statement of decision can be requested in a civil,family law or probate case. Failure to request a statement of decision on all of the controverted issues ina case can prove fatal to any possible appeal of the case as the reviewing court is required to presume thatevery fact essential to the judgment was proved and found by the trial court.Any party appearing at trial may request a statement of decision. If the trial is concluded within onecalendar day, or in less than eight hours spread out over more than one day, the request must be made before the matter is submitted for decision. If the trial is longer than that, the request must be madewithin 10 days after the court announces a tentative decision. See
Code of Civil Procedure
§ 632.A trial shall be deemed to actually commence at the beginning of the opening statement or argument of any party or his or her counsel, or if there is no opening statement, then at the time of the administering of the oath or affirmation to the first witness, or the introduction of any evidence. See
Code of Civil Procedure
§ 581(a)(6).Judicial time off the bench does not count in determining how long a trial "lasts". See
Gorman v.Tassajara Development Corporation
(2009) 178 Cal. App. 4th 44, 61-63. The 10-day period for making the request commences at the time the clerk mails the copy of the minuteorder or decision. See
Hutchins v. Glanda
(1990) 216 Cal. App. 3d 1529, 1531. If counsel makes a timely request for the statement, the court's failure to prepare the statement isreversible error. See
Social Service Union, Local 535 v. County of Monterey
(1989) 208 Cal. App. 3d676, 681.The request for a statement of decision must specify the controverted issues for which a statement of decision is requested. The trial judge is not required to sift through a host of improper specifications insearch of a few arguably proper ones. Although a party cannot be prevented from using the request as away of arguing with the court rather than clarifying the grounds of its decision, a party who makes thatchoice is not entitled to rely on the resulting document to insulate the judgment from the presumption of correctness. See
Yield Dynamics, Inc. v. TEA Systems Corp.
(2007) 154 Cal. App. 4th 547, 558-559. When there has been a request for a statement of decision, the statement of decision may be limited toonly those issues specified in the request if less than all material issues are specified See
Harvard Investment Co. v. Gap Stores, Inc.
(1984) 156 Cal. App. 3d 704, 709 n.3.If an issue was not brought up at the trial, the reviewing court is under no obligation to address it. See
Colony Ins. Co. v. Crusader Ins. Co.
(2010) 188 Cal. App. 4th 743, 750-751.A party waives any objection on appeal based on the trial court's failure to file a written statement of decision when trial lasts less than one day and that party fails to make an oral request, and when languagein that party's points and authorities that were alleged to be a written request was not specific, but merelyasked court to find in her favor. See
Martinez v. County of Tulare
(1987) 190 Cal. App. 3d 1430, 1434-1435.