Statements of Decision: The Ideal and the Reality

by T. Peter Pierce, Esq., of Richards, Watson & Gershon

Earlier this year, we held our annual 3rd Advanced Appellate Conference program. One of our speakers, T. Peter Pierce, spoke about Statements of Decision: The Ideal and the Reality at that program, along with the Hon. Kathleen Banke, Associate Justice, CA Court of Appeal, 1st Appellate District, Division One. Peter has spoken at all of our appellate programs, including our 1st and 2nd Annual Advanced Appellate Conferences. And of course Peter will be back for our 4th Annual Advanced Appellate Conference as well. Justice Banke spoke at this year’s program (3rd Annual) and is speaking at our 4th Annual program in SF on January 31st, 2019 as well.

Both Peter and Justice Banke are fantastic speakers, as our attendees note every time they see Peter and Justice Banke speak.

We wanted to share with you some of their discussion, rules and cases they mentioned that you need to know about, and tips regarding Statements of Decision. And be sure to read all the way to the bottom to get to their list of strategies to employ.

A.     Applicable Circumstances for a Statement of Decision
– Trial court MUST issue a tentative decision on “the trial of a question of fact by the court.” (Cal. Rule Court (CRC) 3.1590.)
– Trial court MAY issue Statement of Decision on “the trial of a question of fact by the court.”  (CCP section 632.)  Must issue under certain circumstances (see below).
– Scope of “trial of a question of fact by the court.”  Does it apply to law and motion or other matters?

B.      Timing and Procedure Intertwined
1.  If trial is concluded within one calendar day or less than eight hours spread over more than one day, a party must request a Statement of Decision before the case is submitted for decision. Failure to do so means the loss of any right to a Statement of Decision, although a court may still issue one at its discretion. (CCP 632.)
2.  Regardless of length of trial, the trial court is required to issue a tentative decision. 
a.      If the trial court opts to announce a tentative decision orally, it must announce it in open court in the presence of all parties appearing at trial (CRC 3.1590(a)).  If the trial is concluded within one calendar day, or lasted less than eight hours, a party is not entitled to a written Statement of Decision.  Under CCP section 632, the trial court may issue an oral Statement of Decision.
b.      If the trial court does not announce its tentative decision in open court with all parties present, it must serve all parties with a minute order or written tentative decision.
         3.      Four specified options for a tentative decision are:
  Option 1- Court states that tentative decision is its proposed Statement of Decision (CRC 3.1590(c)(1)).
Issue: Does a party have 10 days after announcement or service of tentative decision to request that the Statement of Decision be modified to include certain issues (CRC 3.1590(d)), or does a party have 15 days under CRC 3.1590(g) to serve and file objections? Probably the latter because CRC 3.1590(c)(1) expressly refers to subdivision (g).
  Option 2- Court states it will prepare a Statement of Decision  (CRC 3.1590(c)(2)).  A party may request within 10 days of announcement or service of the tentative decision that the Statement of Decision include certain issues. (CRC 3.1590(d)).  The request should specify the controverted issues which the Statement of Decision should address.  (CCP section 632.)  Court must then prepare and serve a proposed Statement of Decision within 30 days of the announcement or service of its tentative decision.
   Option 3- Court orders a party to prepare a Statement of Decision (CRC 3.1590(c)(3)).  A party not ordered to prepare a Statement of Decision may request within 10 days of announcement or service of the tentative decision that the Statement of Decision include certain issues.  (CRC 3.1590(d).)  The request should specify the controverted issues which the Statement of Decision should address.  (CCP section 632.)
Option 4- Court directs that the tentative decision will become the Statement of Decision unless within 10 days a party (1) specifies the issues it requests be included in the Statement of Decision, or (2) “makes proposals” not included in the tentative decision (CRC 3.1590(c)(4)).  If a party does so, the court must then prepare and serve a proposed Statement of Decision within 30 days of the announcement or service of its tentative decision.
         4. The four options in the rule are not exclusive; the rule is phrased in the permissive “may.”  The court could do something else, like send out a written tentative decision without any further direction to the parties.
         Permissive language is consistent with the rule that a Statement of Decision is not required unless the parties request it.  If a Statement of Decision is timely requested and not waived, the trial court must render a Statement of Decision (Karlsen v. Superior Court(2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 1526, 1530-1531).  CCP section 632 requires the trial court to issue a Statement of Decision upon the request of any party if made within 10 days after the court announces a tentative decision (with exception of shorter trial where request must be made before submission of case).
Where the court did not designate either party to prepare a Statement of Decision, by default, and by analogy to California Rules of Court, rule 232(c) [predecessor to Rule 3.1590(c)], the court is required to prepare it.  (In re Marriage of Sellers(2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 1007, 1010–1011.)
        5.     Failure to issue a Statement of Decision in response to a timely request is not per se reversible error.  Instead, the failure is subject to harmless error review.  (F.P. v. Monier (November 27, 2017).)

C.      Elements of Statement of Decision
“A statement of decision explains the factual and legal bases for the trial court’s decision in a nonjury trial.” (Uzyel v. Kadisha(2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 866, 896.)

To comply with a request for a Statement of Decision, a court need only fairly disclose its determinations as to the ultimate facts and material issues in the case. (Central Valley General Hospital v. Smith (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 501, 513.) When this rule is applied, the term ‘ultimate fact’ generally refers to a core fact, such as an essential element of a claim. Ultimate facts are distinguished from evidentiary factsand from legal conclusions. (Metis Development LLC v. Bohacek(2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 748, 758.)

The trial court is not required to respond point by point to the issues posed in a request for Statement of Decision. The court’s Statement of Decisionis sufficient if it fairly discloses the court’s determination as to the ultimate facts and material issues in the case.  (Ermoian v. Desert Hospital(2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 475, 494-495, 497-500; Golden Eagle Ins. Co. v. Foremost Ins. Co.(1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 1372, 1379–1380.)

A Statement of Decisionneed not address all the legal and factual issues raised by the parties. Instead, it need do no more than state the grounds upon which the judgment rests, without necessarily specifying the particular evidence considered by the trial court in reaching its decision.  (Muzquiz v. City of Emeryville(2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 1106, 1124.)

D.     Omissions or Ambiguities in the Proposed Statement of Decision
If a party fails to bring omissions or ambiguities in the proposed Statement of Decision’sfactual findings to the trial court’s attention, that party waives the right to assert on appeal that the Statement of Decision is deficient. (Fladeboe v. American Isuzu Motors Inc. (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 42, 59.)  The doctrine of implied findings would then apply if the statement truly contained ambiguities or omissions.

Ordinarily, when the court’s Statement of Decision is ambiguous or omits material factual findings, a reviewing court is required to infer any factual findings necessary to support the judgment. (Ermoian v. Desert Hospital(2007) 152 Cal. App. 4th 475, 494-495.)

If the Statement of Decision fails to decide a controverted issue or is ambiguous, any party may bring the omission or ambiguity to the trial court’s attention either before the entry of judgmentor in conjunction with a new trial motion or a motion to vacate the judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 663. (CCP § 634.)  If an omission or ambiguity is brought to the trial court’s attention, the reviewing court will not infer findings or resolve an ambiguity in favor of the prevailing party on that issue. (CCP § 634.)

If an omission is not brought to the trial court’s attention as provided under the statute, however, the reviewing court will resolve the omission by inferring findings in favor of the prevailing party on that issue.If an ambiguity is not brought to the trial court’s attention as provided under the statute, the reviewing court will resolve the ambiguity by inferring that the trial court decided in favor of the prevailing party on that issue. (Code Civ. Proc., § 634.) To bring an omission or ambiguity to the trial court’s attention for purposes of Code of Civil Procedure section 634, a party must identify the defect with sufficient particularity to allow the court to correct the defect.  (Uzyel v. Kadisha(2010) 188 Cal. App. 4th 866, 896-897; Bay World Trading, Ltd. v. Nebraska Beef, Inc.(2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 135,139 [objections must be filed 15 days after proposed decision].)

In rendering a Statement of Decision under Code of Civil Procedure section 632, a trial court is required only to state ultimate rather than evidentiary facts.  The trial court need not discuss each issue listed in a party’s request for a Statement of Decision; all that is required is an explanation of the factual and legal basis for the court’s decision regarding the principal controverted issues at trial. (In re Marriage of Balcof (2006) 141 Cal.App.4th 1509, 1530; Hellman v. La Cumbre Golf & Country Club(1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 1224, 1230; Wallis v. PHL Associates, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 814, 824–827.)  Only when the trial court fails to make findings on a material issue which would fairly disclose the trial court’s determination would reversible error result.  If the judgment is otherwise supported, the omission of findings is harmless error unless the evidence is sufficient to sustain a finding in the losing party’s favor which finding would completely undermine findings supporting the judgment. A failure to make findings on an immaterial issue is not reversible error.

E.      Objections to a Proposed Statement of Decision
Any defects in the trial court’s Statement of Decisionmust be brought to the court’s attention through specific objectionsto the statement itself – not through a proposed alternative Statement of Decision. By filing specific objections to the court’s Statement of Decisiona party pinpoints alleged deficiencies in the statement and allows the court to focus on the facts or issues the party contends were not resolved or whose resolution is ambiguous. A proposed alternative Statement of Decisiondoes not serve these functions and does not satisfy the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 634 and Rule 3.1590. (Golden Eagle Ins. Co. v. Foremost Ins. Co.(1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 1372, 1380; Bay World Trading, Ltd. v. Nebraska Beef, Inc. (2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 135,139–140; Ermoian v. Desert Hospital(2007) 152 Cal.App.4th 475, 497-500;Fladeboe v. American Isuzu Motors Inc. (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 42, 59-61.)

F.      Interplay Between Statement of Decision and Judgment
A court may amend its Statement of Decisionafter it receives objections from affected parties. If judgment has not yet been entered, the trial court has inherent power to amend its Statement of Decision to award prejudgment interest. Even after a court has issued a written decision, the court retains authority to change its findings of fact or conclusions of law until judgment is entered. Until a judgment is entered, a Statement of Decision is not effectual for any purpose (Code Civ. Proc., § 664).  A court sitting as a trier of fact may at any time before entry of judgment amend or change its findings of fact.  (Bay World Trading, Ltd. v. Nebraska Beef, Inc.(2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 135, 141.)

A Statement or Decision or memorandum of decision is not appealable. Courts embody their final rulings not in Statements of Decision but in orders or judgments. Reviewing courts have discretion to treat Statements of Decision as appealable when they must, as when a Statement of Decision is signed and filed and does, in fact, constitute the court’s final decision on the merits. But a Statement of Decision is not treated as appealable when a formal order or judgment follows. (Pangilinan v. Palisoc(2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 765, 769; Alan v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc.(2007) 40 Cal.4th 894, 901.)

G.     Strategies Involving Statement of Decision
–        If the tentative decision is in your favor, do not request a Statement of Decision.
–        If the tentative decision is against you, timely request a Statement of Decision.  Possible exception when de novo standard of review.
–        If you lose on the tentative, identify alternative theories that the trial court did not decide, and request an express statement that the trial court did not reach the issues encompassed within those theories.
–        Be judicious in objecting to Statement of Decision.  Focus on broader issues and not on every minor point.
–        If you are the prevailing party, and the losing party objects to the Statement of Decision, think carefully about whether the objections will allow the trial court to clear up ambiguities and omissions, thereby bolstering the judgment in your favor.
–        If you are required to request a Statement of Decision before the case is submitted, make an educated guess as to whether you will be the prevailing party.

 

 

Oral Argument: Practice Tips by Karen Kimmey of Farella Braun + Martell

by Karen Kimmey from Farella Braun + Martell in San Francisco

Karen Kimmey has spoken at our annual Superior Court Boot Camps in San Francisco for more than ten years. Over that time she has provided a number of excellent resources for our attendees. Below is a short list of tips Karen wrote on Oral Argument.

 

  • Always check the tentative and be prepared to address any issues raised.
  • Check in with the court room clerk and be on time.
  • Treat the courtroom staff well.
  • Have a simple outline in front of you with key points and case cites.
  • Have brief remarks prepared but focus on answering questions.
  • Do not simply repeat arguments from your brief. Approach it in a different way.
  • Never address opposing counsel directly.
  • Do not interrupt opposing counsel or the judge.
  • Speak slowly. Don’t annoy the court reporter.
  • Avoid personal attacks or bickering. Judges hate it.
  • Know when to be quiet.
  • Come prepared with a proposed order.
  • Ask clarifying questions if unclear of what the court has ruled.

If you’d like to hear more from Karen, and listen to a program dedicated to motions, discovery and depos, you might be interested in this prior seminar at which she spoke:

9th Annual Superior Court Boot Camp: Discovery, Depos and Motions – Get it Right

You might also be interested in our upcoming 13th Annual CA Superior Court Boot Camp on October 12th, 2018 in Los Angeles and November 8th, 2018 in San Francisco. You can register there, or if you are reading this past those dates, purchase the audio package.

Marijuana and Banking – Never the Twain Shall Meet. Or will they?

dante

One of our upcoming Recreational and Medical Marijuana Law and Business in California speakers, Dante Tosetti, wrote this recently published paper on Federal guidance to enhance the availability of financial services for, and the financial transparency of, marijuana-related businesses: The distinctly separate federal approaches between marijuana-related businesses and marijuana-related business banking.

And if you’re interested in cannabis law at all, or cannabis businesses, you know that banking is one of the biggest issues facing those in the industry. And this includes attorneys who represent cannabis related businesses. After all, if the businesses have to operate as all cash businesses, that means they have to pay you in cash as well. And that means, if you are an attorney or anyone else, you have to follow a host of regulations to ensure you accurately report the income and avoid being accused of money laundering. In other words – banking is a central challenge to cannabis businesses, and those who serve them.

The following is the “abstract” segment of the paper, but you can read the full paper online here.

“In general, state licensed marijuana related businesses (“MRB”) have difficulty obtaining standard banking services from financial institutions since marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The prevailing notion that additional federal action is necessary to open banking services to the marijuana industry is inappropriate. Since MRB banking is inherently high-risk, the argument for additional legal or regulatory leeway to encourage MRB banking is not a sound solution.

Federal guidance is in place for all state and federal chartered banks and credit unions to provide banking services to MRBs. A limited number of financial institutions follow the federal guidance and offer MRB banking services in an open and transparent manner, yet the number of such financial institutions does not meet the overall demand of the marijuana industry. Reinforcement of the federal guidance and awareness of the current best practices within marijuana banking could encourage additional financial institutions to service MRBs. As more financial institutions make the business decision to enter MRB banking under existing regulatory expectations, greater transparency of the marijuana ecosystem will be made available to all stakeholders.” – Dante Tosetti

We hope you’ll join us at the program on November 1-2, 2018. If you miss it, don’t worry, you can purchase the audio recording package here.

Introduction to Oral Argument

argument

We wanted to share with you some tips and advice from speakers at prior programs that we know you will find helpful! Check out this list of Oral Argument tips, created by Andrew Livingston, who has spoken at many of our Superior Court Boot Camps (and is speaking at our upcoming one this fall, 2018).

Let us know what you think!


Objectives

  • Learn how to prepare written materials for oral argument
  • Learn how to prepare for the spoken part of oral argument
  • Learn orienting devices to help your audience understand where you’re going.
    Learn how to deal with questions:

    • Cold benches, i.e., no questions
    • Hot benches, i.e., lots of questions
    • Answering questions
    • Moving on after a question
    • When to concede a point versus standing your ground
    • What to do when you don’t know the answer
  • Learn effective rebuttal

Preparing for the Argument

  • You should be developing your outline as you develop your knowledge of the facts and the law.
  • Your outline will probably start off very long; use the outlining process to refine your points over the course of multiple drafts.
  • Your goal should be to get your outline down to a single page, with single-sentence bullet points which you can reference during argument.
  • Consider coming to argument with a folder with:
    • your one-pager on one side; and
    • more detailed notes on the other side
  • Your folder is your security blanket; if you’re prepared, you might not need it at all.
  • The order of your argument can be just as important as the substance.
  • Think about placement, i.e., where within the argument you want to emphasize good facts and law, and where you want to [bury] bad facts and law.
  • Is there a bad fact or a bad case you want to get out in your opening so you can distinguish or neutralize?
  • Set aside dedicated time to practice your argument by yourself.
  • The goal is to get to the point where you won’t need to read from your outline.
  • Depending on time, resources, and the argument, you may wish to have a moot court session
  • If you do a moot argument, make sure the participants are:
    • familiar enough with the case to ask the right questions; and
    • can offer constructive feedback on your argument style
  • If this is your first argument—ever, or before this court—try to visit the court beforehand and watch another argument
  • Learn the layout, e.g., will you use a lectern or a table? Where is the countdown clock? Can you raise or lower the lectern? Where’s the water?
  • What are the judges’ names and where will they be seated?
  • How has the judge(s) ruled on this issue before?

The Argument

  • The first thing you need to know about speaking is that listening is at least as important.
  • The court will let you know what it’s interested in hearing, which often is not what you’re interested in saying.
  • If you’re prepared, you’ll be ready to listen to the court and adjust your argument accordingly.
  • Starting off with a concise, precise roadmap will help set up the audience’s expectations
  • Quickly state the relief and the reasons why the relief should be granted.
  • Use signposts in your argument to orient the audience
  • Let the court know when you’re moving to another point, and use that opportunity to once again map out your argument for the court.
  • Regarding plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief, the court should deny the motion because….
  • Make sure you understand questions asked, and clarify if necessary
  • TAKE YOUR TIME before
    • This is one of the hardest skills to learn in oral argument
    • Pause and think before answering
  • Resist the urge to fill the silence by saying the first (possibly incorrect) thing that pops into your head

Oral Argument Tips by Karen Kimmey

argument

Here’s another “How to” list of tips, from the do’s to the don’ts, from one of our favorite (and most loved by attendees) speakers at prior CA Superior Court Boot Camps –  we know you will find these helpful! Let us know what you think!

And don’t miss our upcoming 13th Annual Superior Court Boot Camp set for October 12th, 2018 in Los Angeles and November 8th, 2018 in San Francisco.


Oral Argument Tips, by Karen Kimmey of Farella Braun + Martel, and one of our favorite Superior Court Judges in Los Angeles.

  • Always check the tentative and be prepared to address any issues raised.
  • Check in with the court room clerk and be on time.
  • Treat the courtroom staff well.
  • Have a simple outline in front of you with key points and case cites.
  • Have brief remarks prepared but focus on answering questions.
  • Do not simply repeat arguments from your brief. Approach it in a different way.
  • Never address opposing counsel directly.
  • Do not interrupt opposing counsel or the judge.
  • Speak slowly. Don’t annoy the court reporter.
  • Avoid personal attacks or bickering. Judges hate it.
  • Know when to be quiet.
  • Come prepared with a proposed order.
  • Ask clarifying questions if unclear of what the court has ruled.

Cryptocurrencies Draw California Lawmakers’ Attention

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have been around for years, however, lately they’ve been a hot topic in the news and among attorneys.

This blog post from Jennifer Post, of Thompson Coburn, sheds some light on the issue. Jennifer will be speaking at our Cryptocurrencies, Blockchain & Initial Coin Offerings seminar in June 2018.

Virtual currencies remain largely unregulated, as well as the activities which support them (exchanges, wallets, etc). However, due to sudden interest from investors and the creation of several new cryptocurrencies, state lawmakers are beginning to consider how they should regulate these activities.

California has introduced the Virtual Currency Act (A.B. 1123), which would require those involved in a “virtual currency business” in California to first register with the state’s Commissioner of Business Oversight. A.B. 1123 defines a “virtual currency business” as any business “maintaining full custody or control of virtual currency in this state on behalf of others.”

Learn more by reading Jennifer’s post and at our upcoming Cryptocurrencies, Blockchain & Initial Coin Offerings seminar in June 2018.

Ian Samson and Paul Traina are our latest Featured Speakers!

Our latest Featured Speakers are Ian Samson and Paul Traina of Stalwart Law Group!

Ian Samson is an experienced litigator and trial lawyer who will speak at our upcoming Mastering the Deposition seminar in Los Angeles, on February 23rd, 2018.

Ian first spoke for us back in 2016 for Federal Court Boot Camp and has been a repeat speaker for both federal and superior court boot camps since. Seminar attendees rave about his insight, clear examples, and knowledgeability.

Ian represents clients in catastrophic injury matters, whistleblower litigation, class actions, professional liability cases, and commercial litigation. Innovative, tireless, and always willing to go the extra mile for his clients, he has gone toe-to-toe with some of the most highly-regarded law firms in the nation.

Equally comfortable arguing a specific point of law to a federal court judge as he is explaining the big picture to a state court jury, he uses every aspect of his experience to get the best possible result for his clients. Ian is a member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Consumer Attorneys of California, and Public Justice.

And Paul Traina, an experienced, fiercely competitive litigator and trial lawyer, will also speak at our upcoming Mastering the Deposition seminar.

Paul first spoke for us a while back at our Wage & Hour Class Action seminar, and has returned to speak at many of our litigation related seminars year after year, due to his great evaluations.

Paul has practiced law for the past 25 years. He spent his first five years representing automobile manufacturers and insurance companies, and the last twenty years representing consumers on a pure contingency basis. Paul has obtained verdicts and recoveries for his clients totaling over 3 billion dollars. He has, and continues to represent clients in matters involving catastrophic injuries, defective products, whistleblower litigation, class actions, professional liability cases, and business/commercial litigation.

Paul is a frequent guest lecturer at Loyola Law School’s Trial Advocacy Class. He has lectured around the country about class actions, conflicts of interest, opening and closing arguments, and direct and cross examinations of both lay and expert witnesses. Paul is a member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles and Consumer Attorneys of California.

Jim Allen is our latest Featured Speaker

Jim Allen is our latest Featured Speaker!

Jim is a retired Assistant County Attorney for Miami Dade County and has been sharing his experience with our attendees since 2014, when he first spoke at our Circuit Court Boot Camp in Ft. Lauderdale. Since then, Jim has been a frequent speakers at many of our litigation programs. Most recently, he spoke at Mastering the Deposition and Brief Writing in Ft. Lauderdale. Next year, Jim will join us again for our 5th Annual Circuit Court Boot Camp in Ft. Lauderdale.

In addition to providing excellent tips and litigation strategies, Jim always provides thorough handouts and additional materials that attendees rave about.

Jim Allen
Former Assistant County Attorney, Miami-Dade County

Jim was Chief of Training and Development, while continuing to maintain a full caseload in state personal injury and federal civil rights actions.

As a litigator, Jim has practiced extensively in federal and state court at both trial and appellate levels. He has litigated and tried numerous cases involving serious wrongful death and civil rights allegations, including a taking action claiming in excess of 100 million dollars in damages. Jim has also handled numerous state and federal appeals, including a case filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

After law school, Jim clerked for the Honorable James R. Jorgenson, Florida Third District Court of Appeals.  Jim is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, J.D., Cum Laude, 1980.

Harry Chamberlain is our Newest Featured Speaker

Harry Chamberlain of Buchalter Nemer P.C. is our latest Featured Speaker!

Harry is another Appellate Specialist who will be speaking at the upcoming Advanced Appellate Conference in January.

Harry first spoke for us back in 2012. Harry was a joy to work with and attendees loved his presentation. He has been back to speak at multiple appellate seminars, including our 2016 and 2017 Advanced Appellate Conferences and our 2017 Exam Prep course in Appellate law.

Harry Chamberlain II
Buchalter Nemer P.C.

Harry Chamberlain co-chairs the Appellate and Complex Litigation Practice Group at Buchalter Nemer, P.C. with regional offices across California. Harry is an experienced litigator who has represented Fortune 500 companies, public and private sector clients in complex litigation for 35 years. His trial and arbitration practice focuses on the representation of business, professional and public entity clients with special concentration in post-trial remedies, writs and appeals.

He is certified as an Appellate Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization, having argued hundreds of appeals in state and federal courts around the country, including numerous cases before the California Supreme Court and the highest courts of other jurisdictions.

Before joining Buchalter Nemer, Harry’s experience included in-house corporate practice as general counsel, and managing the law department of major market U.S. liability insurers and financial service companies.

Harry serves on the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and is past president of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel and California Defense Counsel, preeminent regional associations of civil defense trial attorneys.

Robin Meadow is our Newest Featured Speaker

Robin Meadow of Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP is our latest Featured Speaker!

Robin first spoke at one of our appellate seminars in 2008 and has been a regular ever since. Seminar attendees continually rave about his teaching style and the excellent handouts he provides.

In addition to being a Certified Appellate Specialist, Robin is also well-versed in the use of technology during an appeal. Attendees always appreciate his discussion about technology during our seminars. Robin has spoken at The Complete Appeal and the Advanced Appellate Roundtable multiple times. Coming up in January, Robin will be at our Third Annual Advanced Appellate Conference, where he has spoken each year.

Robin Meadow
Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP

Few appellate specialists have successfully tried a jury case. Robin Meadow tried jury cases for over 20 years at a major commercial firm, while also handling appeals, in many fields of law. Over time, he realized that it’s nearly impossible to excel at both trials and appeals, because the skill sets and practice rhythms differ completely and often clash. Concluding that his greatest strengths lay in appellate work, Robin joined GMSR in 1994, handling his last trial late that year.

Robin’s trial-court experience gives him a unique perspective on appellate work. He understands the demands and pressures trial lawyers face and the many ways that things can go wrong in the trial court. And he is very much at home consulting with trial lawyers during trial, helping them protect their appellate record so they’re well positioned to either preserve a victory or overturn a defeat.

Robin’s practice at GMSR continues the substantive focus he developed in his earlier years business disputes, real estate, partnerships, and probate and entertainment law.  But, like most appellate lawyers, he is a generalist and at GMSR has also handled multiple significant appeals involving healthcare, family law, personal injury and bankruptcy.

He is also an expert in technology for appellate lawyers and courts. A pioneer in the use of electronic records and briefs, Robin co-authored the California Second District Court of Appeals first protocol for electronic briefs (since adopted by other California Courts of Appeal), and he filed the first electronic brief ever accepted by a California appellate court.

When he isn’t practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading about history and playing bass guitar in a rock band.