Motion for a New Trial in California
A motion for a new trial in California is found in Code of Civil Procedure sections 656 through 663.2. Section 656 of the Code of Civil Procedures states, “a new trial is a re-examination of an issue of fact in the same court after a trial and decision by a jury, court, or referee.” A motion for a new trial in California may be made in an civil case, such as, unlawful detainer eviction case. It is important to keep in mind that California procedures for new trial motions can be especially tricky and complicated. Courts have construed many of their requirements to be “mandatory and jurisdictional.” That is, if a party including the trial judge, makes a mistake, it often cannot be excused or repaired, even on remand.
Advantages of Filing a Motion for a New Trial in California
The advantages of filing a motion for new trial is that it permits the Court to reexamine an issue of fact or law with respects to the case. The trial court has broad discretion to reweigh the evidence, reassess credibility, disbelieve witnesses, and act as a thirteenth juror as stated by several decisions of the California Courts of Appeal.
Grounds for Filing a Motion for a New Trial in California
Code of Civil Procedure section 657 covers seven (7) grounds for filing a motion for a new trial including:
- Irregularity in the proceedings of the court, jury, adverse party, any order of the court, or abuse of discretion by which either party was prevented from having a fair trial;
- Accident or surprise and newly discovered evidence that is material and which could not with reasonable diligence have been discovered and produced at the trial;
- Misconduct of the jury (such misconduct may be proved by the affidavit of any one of the jurors);
- Excessive or inadequate damages;
- Error in law, occurring at the trial and excepted to by the party making the application;
- Insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or other decision, or the verdict or other decision is against law;
- Newly discovered evidence, material for the party making the application, which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial.
For example, when there is a jury verdict for a personal injury case that a party has ground for a new trial, one can file a motion for new trial.
Deadline for Filing a Motion for a New Trial in California
The deadline for filing a motion for new trial in California have strict deadlines. A party seeking to request a new trial, should first file a notice of intention to move for a new trial. The motion should be filed in timely manner or the motion will be denied. Per Code of Civil Procedure § 659a: Within ten (10) calendar days after filing the notice of intention to move for new trial the party must file and serve any supporting affidavits unless a stipulation or court order has been obtained extending the time period. Furthermore, while a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority is not technically required it is strongly recommended and should be filed and served at the same time as the supporting affidavits.
Code of Civil Procedure § 659(a)
Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 659(a) The party intending to move for a new trial shall file with the clerk and serve upon each adverse party a notice of his or her intention to move for a new trial, designating the grounds upon which the motion will be made and whether the same will be made upon affidavits or the minutes of the court, or both, either:
(1) After the decision is rendered and before the entry of judgment.
(2) Within 15 days of the date of mailing notice of entry of judgment by the clerk of the court pursuant to Section 664.5, or service upon him or her by any party of written notice of entry of judgment, or within 180 days after the entry of judgment, whichever is earliest; provided, that upon the filing of the first notice of intention to move for a new trial by a party, each other party shall have 15 days after the service of that notice upon him or her to file and serve a notice of intention to move for a new trial.
(b) That notice of intention to move for a new trial shall be deemed to be a motion for a new trial on all the grounds stated in the notice. The times specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) shall not be extended by order or stipulation or by those provisions of Section 1013 that extend the time for exercising a right or doing an act where service is by mail.”
Note that the power of the court to rule on a motion for a new trial shall expire 60 days from and after the mailing of notice of entry of judgment by the clerk of the court pursuant to Section 664.5 or 60 days from and after service on the moving party by any party of written notice of the entry of the judgment, whichever is earlier, or if such notice has not theretofore been given, then 60 days after filing of the first notice of intention to move for a new trial. If such motion is not determined within said period of 60 days, or within said period as thus extended, the effect shall be a denial of the motion without further order of the court.
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