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  1. #1
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    Aug 2010
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    Default Small Claims Court - Trial De Novo

    My question involves small claims court in the state of: California, Los Angeles County

    Does the California evidence code Section 711 apply in Small Claims Trials de Novo?: It says "At the trial of an action, a witness can be heard only in the presence and subject to the examination of all the parties to the action, if they choose to attend and examine." I could not find anywhere in the Small Claims Act that this does not apply, only that Small Claims is informal.

    I was the Plaintiff in a Trial de Novo case where the judge did not question anything the Defense said. They misquoted the CC&Rs, stated I didn't follow non-existent procedures, accused me of remodeling rather that repairing my condo, etc. etc. The judge did not ask them to produce one piece of evidence. I was not allowed to cross examine them, and the proceeding was abruptly stopped before I had a chance to call my witnesses.

    I have since filed two SC-105 forms, requesting the trial reconvene so I could produce my witnesses and additional evidence; and the second time requesting the damages awarded be increased to cover my costs (I had damage to the interior of my condo after the roof leaked, which was HOA responsibility to maintain). Both were denied. The judge said I had no right to cross-examine the Defense, and that his ruling was based on applicable law. What law says that damage resulting from failed common area maintenance belongs to the homeowner? Is it true that I didn't have a right to examine the Defense? How is one supposed to defend oneself when the other side lies?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Small Claims Court - Trial De Novo

    A trial de novo occurs in the Superior Court, not the small claims court. Those proceedings are informal:
    Quote Quoting California Code of Civil Procedure, Sec. 116.770.
    (a) The appeal to the superior court shall consist of a new hearing before a judicial officer other than the judicial officer who heard the action in the small claims division.

    (b) The hearing on an appeal to the superior court shall be conducted informally. The pretrial discovery procedures described in Section 2019.010 are not permitted, no party has a right to a trial by jury, and no tentative decision or statement of decision is required.

    (c) Article 5 (commencing with Section 116.510) on hearings in the small claims court applies in hearings on appeal in the superior court, except that attorneys may participate. (d) The scope of the hearing shall include the claims of all parties who were parties to the small claims action at the time the notice of appeal was filed. The hearing shall include the claim of a defendant that was heard in the small claims court.

    (e) The clerk of the superior court shall schedule the hearing for the earliest available time and shall mail written notice of the hearing to the parties at least 14 days prior to the time set for the hearing.

    (f) The Judicial Council may prescribe by rule the practice and procedure on appeal and the time and manner in which the record on appeal shall be prepared and filed.
    Quote Quoting California Code of Civil Procedure, Sec. 116.520.
    (a) The parties have the right to offer evidence by witnesses at the hearing or, with the permission of the court, at another time.

    (b) If the defendant fails to appear, the court shall still require the plaintiff to present evidence to prove his or her claim.

    (c) The court may consult witnesses informally and otherwise investigate the controversy with or without notice to the parties.

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