Palm Desert, CA asked in Appeals / Appellate Law and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Does the defendant of a small claims appeal need to serve plaintiff with exhibits to justify claim amounts?

I sued X-landlord for return of my security deposit; he countersued and won. I have appealed decision. The first time, I was blind sided because he had exhibits which I was unaware of because they were never served on me. Is he required to re-serve me his claim, including exhibits before this hearing?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, when an appeal is made in a small claims case, both parties are generally required to follow the rules of evidence and procedure applicable to small claims court. This includes the requirement for each party to provide the other with copies of all documents and evidence they plan to use in the hearing. If your opponent has exhibits they intend to use to justify their claim amounts, they should serve you with these exhibits prior to the hearing.

However, the exact rules can vary by county, and it's crucial to check the local court rules where your case is being heard. Generally, this process ensures that both parties have a fair opportunity to review and respond to all evidence that will be presented at the appeal hearing.

If you were blindsided by exhibits in the first hearing that were not served on you, this might not align with standard procedure. For the appeal, you should prepare your evidence and also request that your opponent provide you with all their exhibits ahead of the hearing. If they fail to do so, you can bring this to the attention of the judge during the appeal, explaining that you were not given proper notice of the evidence against you. This approach can help ensure that the hearing is conducted fairly and that you have the opportunity to adequately prepare your case.

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