[First published Oct. 23, 2013 – 216 views until now]
California’s so-called “Vexatious Litigants” Statute” (“VLS” – California Civil Procedure Code Section 391 et seq) was passed by the California Legislature in 1963. The VLS permits a defendant to move the court to require a security for litigation from a litigant who fails to hire a lawyer (“pro se litigant” or “litigant in propria persona”) and who also meets certain other conditions. It is not applicable to a litigant represented by a lawyer.
The VLS was originated by a trade association of attorneys – the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
“The idea began with the Los Angeles County Bar Association and was pursued by the State Bar, which argued ‘The need for the adoption of this legislation is that there is an unreasonable burden placed upon the courts by groundless litigation, which, in turn, prevents the speedy consideration of deserving and proper litigation . . .’”. (Wolfgram v Wells Fargo Bank (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 43).
[First published Nov. 10, 2013 – 231 views]
What’s wrong with Taliaferro?
Taliaferro v. Hoogs (1965) 236 Cal.App.2d 521 is an appellate court opinion widely cited for upholding the constitutionality (of the original version) of California’s so-called “Vexatious Litigants” statute (“VLS”).
In 1965 Taliaferro ruled that the original 1963 VLS is not unconstitutional on due process grounds. However, as discussed below, Taliaferro errs by equating specialized lawsuits (viz. stockholders derivative actions) with all types of actions (e.g.. actions to vindicate personal rights). This distinction was made clear in a later US Supreme Court case, Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U. S. 371, 374 (1971). Continue reading
[First published Feb 20, 2014 – republished Dec 8, 2014 after 629 views]
How vague is “frivolous”? – Part 1
In 1995 – in the Los Angeles County probate court – in the course of a proceeding for petition for division of trust under California Probate Code sec. 15412 – a layman in propria persona filed Petitioner’s In Limine Motion for an Order Setting Mode of Trial to be Inquisitorial Rather Than Adversarial (“inquisitorial motion” – online copy is redacted). The trustee/bank (“bank”) filed a response (online copy redacted) . The petitioner filed a Supplement to his motion (online copy redacted) with additional points and authorities.
At the hearing, the judge called this motion “unusual, if not bizarre” and he made this motion the basis, inter alia, for an order declaring petitioner a “vexatious litigant” under California’s so-called “Vexatious Litigant” statute (California Civil Procedure Code Sec.391 et seq – “VLS”). The VLS – at CCP Sec. 391(b)(3) – allows a California judge to stigmatize and strip a pro se litigant of fundamental constitutional rights – based solely on that person’s alleged “tactics that are frivolous”.
Two questions arise:
Question 1: Was the inquisitorial motion truly “frivolous” as contemplated by CCP Sec. 391(b)(3)?
Question 2: Is CCP Sec. 391(b)(3) constitutionally void for vagueness in that it is directed to the person of ordinary intelligence, a non-lawyer, who has no opportunity to know what tactics are, or are not, “frivolous”? Continue reading
[First published Dec 12, 2013 – republished Dec 7, 2014 after 593 views]
Equal Protection Error in Wolfgram v. Wells Fargo
Wolfgram v Wells Fargo Bank (1997) 53 Cal.App.4th 43, is often cited as authority for upholding the constitutionality of California’s so-called “Vexatious Litigant Statute” (California Civil Procedure Code, Sec 391 et seq. – “VLS”). Two previous blog posts – “Prior Restraint Errors in Wolfgram v. Wells Fargo Part 1” & “. . . Part 2” – discussed nine judicial errors by the author, Judge Fred K. Morrison, relating to the issue of prior restraint. This post continues the discussion – in regard to the issue of Equal Protection. Continue reading
[First published Dec 10, 2013 – republished Dec 8, 2014 after 261 views]
Equal Protection Error in Wolfe v. George
Under our Constitutional Equal Protection doctrine, all persons, or classes of persons, shall be treated equally “in the same place and in like circumstances” under the law – and “shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and considerations”,
“ . . . the guarantee of the equal protection of the laws means “that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and in like circumstances.” Missouri v. Lewis, 101 U.S. 22, 31. We have also said: “The Fourteenth Amendment, in declaring that no State ‘shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,’ undoubtedly intended not only that there should be no arbitrary deprivation of life or liberty, or arbitrary spoliation of property, but that equal protection and security should be given to all under like circumstances in the enjoyment of their personal and civil rights; that all persons . . . should have like access to the courts of the country for the protection of their persons and property, the prevention and redress of wrongs, and the enforcement of contracts; that no impediment should be interposed to the pursuits of any one except as applied to the same pursuits by others under like circumstances; that no greater burdens should be laid upon one than are laid upon others in the same calling and condition, . . .” (Connolly v. Union Sewer Pipe Company, 184 U.S. 540 (1902) – emphasis added).
California’s so-called “Vexatious Litigants” Statute” (“VLS” – California Civil Procedure Code Section 391 et seq) recognizes two classes of litigants – those who hire a lawyer to represent them and those who fail to hire a lawyer to represent them. The VLS does not apply equally to all litigants who come before the court. Pro se litigants are treated very differently from represented litigants by the VLS. The VLS applies much stricter standards and the possibility of serious penalties (including loss of right to file any litigation in pro per in the future) only to that class of litigants who fail to hire a lawyer (a “pro se litigant” or “litigant in propria persona”). In civil proceedings, the right to litigate in propria persona is a protected right under California law (see Baba v. Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco, 124 Cal.App.4th 504 (2004)) Continue reading
“Not proven is a verdict available to a court in Scotland. . . .. Under Scots law, a criminal trial may end in one of three verdicts: one of conviction (“guilty”) and two of acquittal (“not proven” and “not guilty”). . .. . . . . [there] is the modern perception that the “not proven” verdict is an acquittal used when the judge or jury does not have enough evidence to convict but is not sufficiently convinced of the accused person’s innocence to bring in a “not guilty” verdict. Continue reading
Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi on his new article on California’s three-strike rule.
The following copies of email messages are self explanatory:
Thank you for responding to my email message.
Although I am not a lawyer (or rather I should say
BECAUSE I am not a lawyer) I have a strong personal
interest in law reform, having been myself the victim
of lawsuit abuse (of an unusual type).
My experience led me to the same dismay at our legal
system as you express; however I come to different
conclusions about the causes and solution. Continue reading
Solomonic Procedure: A Suggestion for Reform of Litigation Procedure
Suggestion: Judges should be required to repeat each litigant’s facts and arguments before giving a decision. Continue reading
The following sources regarding pro se litigation are from the librarian at LA Co Law Library as of Feb. 28, 2013…. Continue reading