Los Angeles, CA asked in Appeals / Appellate Law, Civil Litigation and Constitutional Law for California

Q: What issues differentiate a De Novo review from a Independant review?

1 Lawyer Answer
John Toby Schreiber
John Toby Schreiber
  • Appeals & Appellate Lawyer
  • Benicia, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: De novo review and independent review are actually generally the same thing. They both refer to the standard of review used by the appellate court concerning an issue of law. Issues of law include interpretation of a statute, constitutional provision, ordinance, or regulation, or interpretation of a contract clause when there is no conflicting testimony as to what the clause means. There is also an issue of law on appeal and therefore independent or de novo review when the facts are undisputed.

Appellate courts review issues of law independently because they are in as good as, or better position than, trial courts in addressing such issues. Therefore appellate courts do not defer to a trial court ruling on an issue of law. By contrast, with factual issues like did something happen or not, or what color was the traffic light, or was a witness telling the truth, the trial court is in a better position than the appellate court, which can merely look at a transcript of testimony, to determine whether that witness is telling the truth, since the judge or jury can look at the witness' expression and determine whether they think the witness is being honest. This subject is actually very important in appeals.

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