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Target National Bank v. Rocha

Superior Court of California, Appellate Division, Santa Clara

April 29, 2013

TARGET NATIONAL BANK, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
LUCY I. ROCHA, Defendant and Appellant.

Pub. Order 5/16/13.

Superior Court of Santa Clara County, Socrates P. Manoukian, Judge. Honorable Griffin M.J. Bonini, Acting Presiding Judge of the Appellate Divisions, Honorable Deborah A. Ryan, Judge, Honorable Julia Alloggiamento, Judge.

Counsel:

Frederick W. Schwinn, Consumer Law Center, for Defendant and Appellant.

John A. Clinnin, CIR, Law Offices, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

ORDER

THE COURT:

The appeal by appellant Lucy I. Rocha (“Rocha”) from the judgment entered on July 9, 2012, came on regularly for hearing and was heard and submitted on April 26, 2013. We hereby hold as follows:

Procedural History

On July 22, 2011, plaintiff/respondent Target National Bank (“Target”) filed a complaint for breach of contract and common counts against Rocha. On August 2, 2011, Rocha filed an answer generally denying the allegations in the complaint and asserting several affirmative defenses. On June 6, 2012, Target filed a declaration in lieu of live testimony at trial.

On July 9, 2012, the case came before the Honorable Socrates P. Manoukian for a short cause trial. After argument by the parties, the trial court admitted the declaration into evidence pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 98 (“Section 98”). Aside from this declaration, no other evidence was presented at trial by either party. Based on the declaration, the trial court entered judgment for Target in the amount of $7, 788.30 (See Clerk’s Transcript (“CT”), p. 170.) On August 7, 2012, Appellant filed her notice of appeal.

Standard of Review

The issue in this appeal is whether the trial court properly admitted into evidence the declaration offered by Target. Generally, an appellate court applies the abuse of discretion standard of review to any ruling by a trial court on the admissibility of evidence. (City of Riponv. Sweetin (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 887, 900.) Here, however, the declaration was admitted pursuant to Section 98. Statutory interpretation and the application of a statute are questions of law that are reviewed de novo. (Boy Scouts of America National Foundation v. Superior Court (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 428, 443.) As explained by the court in City of Sacramento v. Drew (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1287 (Drew), “[t]he scope of discretion always resides in the particular law being applied, i.e., in the legal principles governing the subject of [the] action. Action that transgresses the confines of the applicable principles of law is outside the scope of discretion and we call such action an abuse of discretion.” (Drew, supra, 207 Cal.App.3d at p. 1297, internal quotations omitted.)

For the judgment to be reversed on appeal, the appellant must show that the erroneous admission of evidence resulted in a miscarriage of justice. (Evid. Code, § 353, subd. (b).) “A miscarriage of justice should be declared only when the reviewing court is convinced after an examination of the entire case, including the evidence, that it is reasonably probable a result more favorable to the appellant would have been reached absent the error.” (Brokopp v. Ford Motor Co. (1977) 71 ...


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