My question involves court procedures for the state of: California
How do I convince a judge I'm not liable for a vehicle's towing fees. I'm not sure how to present evidence in Small Claims Court in Sacramento. This is what happened:

I sold an SUV July 2018 and completed a Notice of Release of Liability (NRL). I saved the receipt and the bill of sale.
I received a letter from a towing company in Sacramento. They impounded the SUV and their document stated I am the registered owner. They want storage fees near $1700-.

DMV confirmed NRL is on file, but she said sometimes towing companies don’t want to pay money so they don't submit the form that would confirm the registered owner or that a NRL has been filed.
Called the towing company, informed him of NRL. He said the SUV will be sold in a lien sale. The NRL was on file for +250 days before any towing took place!

Two days before Christmas, the towing company served me papers (by a CHILD at the front door!). How do I report that to keep it from happening again?

I called DMV again to confirm the NRL. This time the person I spoke to gave me his name and DMV work ID number.

Please bear with me...I'm trying to recover from pneumonia and my father/BF has advanced metastatic cancer-it's tough.

Questions:
1. Does the towing company have any duty to confirm the Registered Owner with DMV and document it as part of a lien sale in CA?

2. Is NRL receipt from DMV and the bill of sale enough to convince the judge I am not liable? I am taking a witness to the sale, he knows me and the guy I sold the SUV to (he no longer has it and can't be reached).

3. This towing company holds a contract with the State for impounding towing and storage services. Their contract language holds them to certain ethical behavior! Obtaining documents from DMV is probably included in the process. Does anyone know the statutes in the CA Vehicle Code holding towing companies to certain procedures during this process? Or does this happen all the time? I am sick and thinking does not come easy, so I appreciate any help you can give me!

4. They filed in Small Claims Court in Sacramento County (where the tow yard is, but not sure that's appropriate). I live in Placer County and was no party to any contract, no damages, etc. It is more than 2 hours round trip and my witness is taking the day off work. Is there a valid counter suit when this all could've been prevented?

5. DMV sent a letter to my address, but I've never heard of him (and it's not the guy I sold it to). Weird. I wrote “Unknown to Residents” on the envelope and took a picture of it to remember the guy’s name. I think it might be the guy!?! Is that appropriate evidence the judge would want to see?

I'll take duplicates of everything to Court.

Please advise...and thank you.