Friday, September 01, 2006

Appeal reinstated

I just got this from the appellate court:
Appellant's motion to vacate dismissal is granted. Appellant shall file the record designation in Santa Cruz County Superior Court within 15 days from the date of this order.
This takes some explanation. I appealed a family court order about 6 weeks ago, and I later got this notice, dated Aug 11:
The appellant having failed to procure the record on appeal within the time limits allowed or within any valid extensions of these time limits, and having further failed to apply to this court for relief from default, the appeal filed on July 13, 2006, is dismissed. (See rule 8(b), California Rules of Court.)
After filing the notice of appeal, I am required to designate the record within 15 days. That means telling the family court clerk what pages to xerox and forward to the appellate court.

I never figured out just what the problem was. Maybe I filed the designation a day late. The clerk only complained about the proof of service because I filed it myself. That is, when I tell the clerk what pages to xerox, I am supposed to send a copy of those instructions to my ex-wife, with someone else dropping it into a mailbox. A lawyer or secretary or even a complete stranger can drop it in the mailbox, but I am not supposed to do it myself. A child cannot do it either. So the clerk asked for proof that I wasn't the one who mailed the copy to my ex-wife.

If this sounds crazy, it is. The court rules call it a "proof of service", but it is not a proof of service at all. It is just a silly rule designed for the convenience of lawyers. When someone like myself doesn't use a lawyer, it doesn't make any sense.

Anyway, I don't know whether the appellate court was quibbling about my record designation or my proof of service. Either way, my 15 days was now past, so I filed for an extension. This turned out to be the wrong move, as I got this in return:
Dear Sir/Madam:
Your Request for extension of time to designate record is returned herewith for the following reason(s):
This case was dismissed on August 11, 2006.
Very truly yours,
Okay, I had failed to recite the right mumbo-jumbo. The main function of the appeals court is find silly technicalities that can be used to dismiss cases. They probably really enjoy jerking lawyers around with their silly rules. They probably also find unrepresented parties like myself annoying, because it doesn't do much good to teach them a lesson.

I checked the rules, and I discovered that I had 30 days to file a motion to vacate the dismissal. So I did that, and sent a copy to my ex-wife. The court didn't quibble about the proof of service on that.

The appellate court granted that, and gave me 15 more days to designate the record. I've already designated the record twice, so I don't know why the court didn't just accept that. If those time limits were really for the purpose of moving the case along quickly, then the court could have done things a lot differently.

The clerk probably thinks that he has taught me a lesson. Yeah, he's taught me a lesson alright.

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