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In re Establishment of Press-Enterprise as a Newspaper of General Circulation

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

May 7, 2015

In re Establishment of The Press-Enterprise as a Newspaper of General Circulation.
v.
v. SENTINEL WEEKLY NEWS, Contestant and Appellant.

APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County, No. RIC1215735 Daniel A. Ottolia, Judge.

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COUNSEL

Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge and Michael L. Kirby for Contestant and Appellant.

Best Best & Krieger, Kira L. Klatchko, Kendall H. MacVey and Irene S. Zurko for Petitioner and Respondent.

OPINION

MILLER J.

Some notices, such as foreclosure notices, are required by law to be published in “a newspaper of general circulation.” (Gov. Code, § 6040;[1] Press Democrat v. Sonoma County Herald Recorder (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 578, 580 [143 Cal.Rptr.3d 481] (Press Democrat).) A “newspaper of general circulation” is defined as “a newspaper published for the dissemination of local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character, which has a bona fide subscription list of paying subscribers, and has been established, printed and published at regular intervals in the state, county, or city where publication, notice by publication, or official advertising is to be given or made for at least one year preceding the date of the publication, notice or advertisement. (§ 6000.)

There is an exception to the requirement that a newspaper must be printed in the place of publication. (§ 6006.) If, prior to 1923, a newspaper was an established newspaper of general circulation-meeting the requirements that were in place at that time-then it is exempt from the printing/location requirement set forth in general rule (§ 6000). (§ 6006; Press Democrat, supra, 207 Cal.App.4th at p. 580.)

Petitioner and respondent Anita Davis, advertising director of the Press-Enterprise newspaper, petitioned the trial court for a judgment establishing the Press-Enterprise as a newspaper of general circulation for the City of

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Corona (Corona).[2] For ease of reference, we will refer to the petitioner as “Press-Enterprise.” Press-Enterprise’s newspaper is not printed in Corona, and therefore, Press-Enterprise relied upon the exception in section 6006 when making its argument. The trial court adjudged the Press-Enterprise to be a newspaper of general circulation for Corona. Contestant and appellant Sentinel Weekly News (Sentinel) contends the trial court erred because Press-Enterprise’s newspaper did not qualify for the section 6006 exemption. We reverse the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. PETITION

On October 19, 2012, Press-Enterprise petitioned the trial court for a judgment establishing Press-Enterprise’s newspaper as a newspaper of general circulation for Corona. Press-Enterprise provided a memorandum of points and authorities in support of its petition. In the memorandum, relying on the section 6006 exemption, Press-Enterprise asserted its newspaper is a newspaper of general circulation because it has been published in Riverside County (the County) since 1878, disseminating local or telegraphic news of general character, on a regular basis (six days per week), with a bona fide list of subscribers. Press-Enterprise asserted it published legal notices in 1895.

Corona was incorporated as a city in 1896. Press-Enterprise reasoned that since it was a newspaper of general circulation for the County, while the area that became Corona was an unincorporated part the County, Press-Enterprise’s newspaper remained a newspaper of general circulation for Corona after Corona incorporated. In other words, the incorporation of the city did not change Press-Enterprise’s status as a newspaper of general circulation for the area that became Corona.

Press-Enterprise presented a secondary argument as well. In the secondary argument, Press-Enterprise asserted that after Corona incorporated, but prior to 1923, its newspaper became a newspaper of general circulation within Corona because (1) it was published six days per week, and (2) circulated to a bona fide list of 71 subscribers in Corona.

B. OPPOSITION

Sentinel, whose offices are in Corona, opposed Press-Enterprise’s petition. Sentinel asserted the petition “is silent as to whether The Press-Enterprise has

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ever been printed in the City of Corona.” Sentinel asserted Press-Enterprise failed to meet the exception in section 6006 “with respect to the printing requirement.”

C. FIRST HEARING

On November 21, 2012, the trial court held a hearing in the case. The trial court announced its tentative decision: “Court finds that the Press Enterprise has met all pre 1923 requirements to be a newspaper of general circulation prior to the incorporation of the city of Corona pursuant to Government Code Section 6006. [¶] In addition, it appears that post 1923, the Press Enterprise has met the requirements of general circulation as well. [¶] On that basis, the Court would grant the petition.”

Sentinel asserted Press-Enterprise had incorrectly read the law related to Press-Enterprise’s first argument concerning being a newspaper of general circulation for the County, and thereby automatically becoming a newspaper of general circulation for the newly incorporated Corona. Sentinel argued that if the law provided for such automatic status then “every older newspaper would be adjudicated in every city incorporated after 1923 even if it didn’t have a presence in that community.” Sentinel asserted the correct reading of the law is that if a newspaper of general circulation is operating in an unincorporated area, and that area then incorporates, the newspaper can remain a newspaper of general circulation for the newly incorporated area; however, the newspaper must have operations based in the relevant area.

Press-Enterprise asserted, “some kind of general circulation activity prior to the incorporation of a city” was all the law required. Thus, since Press-Enterprise’s newspaper circulated in Corona prior to Corona incorporating in 1896, Press-Enterprise met the section 6006 exemption. Sentinel argued that Press-Enterprise had misinterpreted the ...


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