To: Al Smith, Senior Partner
From: Research Associate
RE: State and Federal Court System for California: Bob v. Al, Kathy, Dan Date: January 3rd, 2012
I. Overview of the State and Federal Courts in California.
II. Which California court or courts hold jurisdiction for the amount in controversy in the three lawsuits that Bob wants to file?
III. Why should Bob file his lawsuits in a particular court or courts?
IV. Which case Bob must represent himself?
Statement of Facts
Our client Bob resides in Los Angeles, California and has asked for our advice in three separate cases in which he has loaned people money.
In the first case, Bob loaned $500 to Al. Al signed a promissory note which says that Al will repay the loan in one month. Al has not paid anything.
In the second case, Bob loaned $7,000.00 to Cathy 14 months ago. Cathy signed a promissory note which states that she would pay the note in full in 12 months. She has not paid.
In the third case, Bob loaned $55,000 to Dan 24 months ago. Dan signed a promissory note stating he would repay the loan in 18 months. Dan has paid nothing.
Al, Cathy, and Dan all reside in Los Angeles, California.
California Statutes of Limitation
Written agreements (promissory note): 4 years, calculated from the date of breach. Oral agreements: 2 years. The statute of limitation is stopped only if the debtor makes a payment on the account after the expiration of the applicable limitations period.
I. Superior courts now have trial jurisdiction over all civil cases including family law, probate, juvenile, and general civil matters. For monetary issues under $10,000 a person in pro-per living in Los Angeles could file a complaint in small claims court. All filings over $10,000 would have to be made in Los Angeles County Superior Court Civil Division. If we were to receive an unfavorable ruling above in a court other than small claims court we would file an appeal to the 2nd District Court of Appeal also located in Los Angeles, California. If that ruling was not in our favor we could than appeal to the California Supreme Court if necessary. Federal courts are similar in structure to State courts in California. The Supreme Court is the highest court in our country’s judiciary. There are two levels of Federal courts under the Supreme Court, they are The U.S. District Courts (the Trial Courts), and The U.S. Courts of Appeals (the Appellate Courts).
II. The three lawsuits could be fled in Los Angeles County Superior Court. To save himself some time and money Bob could file the cases against Al ($500) and Cathy ($7,000) in small claims court. However, we would not be able to make appearances for Bob in those two cases since they are in small claims court, we could advise and prepare him on what he needs to say while he is in court. If Bob wants us to make the appearances for him we could file all three cases in Los Angeles Superior Court Civil Division. If Bob elects to handle the first two cases on his own in small claims court we could represent him on the third case against Dan ($55,000) in Los Angeles Superior Court Civil Division. Bob does have the option of filing against Dan in small claims court but he would only be able to receive $10,000 and would forfeit the remainder of the loan forever. Bob should also know that any of our fees would not be recoverable in small claims court except in rare cases.
III. Bob should file the two smaller cases in small claims court to save him time and money in getting a judgment that can be enforced. Our firm can represent him in the third case against Dan and we should be able to recover attorney fees and cost for him when we win a judgment for him. After a judgment is made we can assist Bob in filing the appropriate liens in his case to make sure he has a way of recouping his losses from the defendants.
IV. Bob must...