It's about time
May 24, 2018
Let's face it, law and legal stuff can be pretty scary, sometimes.
Take the young lady who came into our library. Seems she had been sued for a breach of contract. A while back. Seems she didn't know about the awesomeness of her local county law library (i.e. the RCLL) so she pulled a response from somewhere off the Internet and filed it.
You can imagine her surprise and chagrin when, 30 days later, she was served with a demurrer to her answer. Wait, what?! Can the plaintiff do that?
As it turns out, under California Code of Civil Procedure § 430.20:
A party against whom an answer has been filed may object, by demurrer as provided in Section 430.30, to the answer upon any one or more of the following grounds: (a) The answer does not state facts sufficient to constitute a defense. (b) The answer is uncertain. As used in this subdivision, "uncertain" includes ambiguous and unintelligible. (c) Where the answer pleads a contract, it cannot be ascertained from the answer whether the contract is written or oral.
So, back to the story and in answer to her question, yes, the plaintiff can file a demurrer to her answer (and given the fact that she just pulled something off the Internet, I'm guessing they had good reason). The problem at hand was not that the plaintiff had filed a demurrer against her answer but how long she had to respond to the demurrer. Seems she had held on to the demurrer for a couple of weeks and was getting sweating palms thinking that she might have missed the deadline to file her response.
Turns out, this is a common problem. Specifically, people get served and then start sweating because they don't know how long they have to file a response. Good thing California legislators thought of this quandary as they were keen to enact California Code of Civil Procedures §§ 12-13b that help in computing time to file a response.
Then there's the Los Angeles Superior Court Date Calculator. Seems this is a BIG problem there, too, because they did something that really helps people - they created a calculator to help people calculate by when a document must be filed. For example, using the LA Superior Court's calculator, if I received a demurrer on May 23, 2018. Under California Code of Civil Procedure 1005(b) it says I have 16 court days to serve and file a response to a motion. So, I input the date (5/23/2018) on the calendar, type "16" (for days to file a response under CCP 1005(b)), click "Calculate" and the answer i get is: June 15, 2018.
Pretty slick, hun?
Of course, that didn't help young lady since the time to respond to her demurrer had already past. Sometimes it's like that. Sometimes you're the nut and sometimes you're the nutcracker.
Hopefully next time she gets on the ball a bit faster or just heads on down to her local county law library when next she's starting down her next eight ball so we can help her out. Yeah, that's what she should do.
Bret is a Legal Research & Instructional Services Librarian at our Main Library.