Appellate Insights

May 16, 2022 Alana H. Rotter
Covering Your Bases On A New Trial Motion

When pursuing a new trial motion in California state court, the substance is important.  But procedure is also crucial, to set the stage for preserving a new-trial grant or reversing a denial on appeal.  Among the key points:

  • File the notice of intent within the jurisdictional deadline.  The deadline to file a notice of intent to move for a new trial is jurisdictional.  Calculate it carefully, and aim to file a day or two early.
  • Draft the notice of intent broadly.  List every conceivably-applicable statutory ground for a new trial in your notice of intent, even if the supporting memorandum may not develop arguments on every ground.  The Court of Appeal can affirm the grant of a new trial on a different ground than the trial court employed (with a few exceptions) – but only if the ground was stated in the notice of intent.
  • Remind the court of its deadline to rule.  Just as parties have a jurisdictional deadline to seek a new trial, the court has a jurisdictional deadline to grant one.  A new-trial order issued after that deadline is ineffective.  State the court’s deadline in bold on the motion’s caption page, and follow up with the court if the deadline approaches without a ruling.

►  The practical message:  There are many statutory and common-law nuances when it comes to new trial motions.  Make sure someone on your team knows them and is monitoring compliance.

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