I am litigating a civil case for breach of contract and am pro se (unless trial is ordered). I quoted, I feel are the appplicable statutes etc. I also used a few case laws in support.
But after I submitted final pleadings, I found even more and even BETTER case laws on point! So my question is when a case is under judicial review by the judge and his/her staff, are they "too" looking at various case laws and not JUST relying on what I submitted? In others words, can they very well review case laws that are in support and better than what I submitted? Thank you, Alan.
Unless it is some obscure area of law, the judge knows the law. If you found "better" case law you mention it during oral argument at a motion, etc. You don't quote law in pleadings so your "final pleadings" is unclear. No, the courts and their staffs do not otherwise help with your legal research.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
If you have authority that's on point and helps you, and you are asking the court to do something specific that you're entitled to and that the court has the power to do, it helps the court if you direct it to the authority that's on point, especially if it's binding authority. (If you don't know what "binding authority" means, you shouldn't be litigating your own case.)
When you say you "submitted final pleadings," I don't know what that means. I know what pleadings are, but "final pleadings"? In a civil action there's a complaint, and the other side can answer, or bring dispositive motions (such as a motion to dismiss). If there are contested material facts, there needs to be a trial to sort them out. If there are no contested material facts, and one of the parties moves for summary judgment, it can be useful to cite the authority on point that you have. But you don't state that you moved for summary judgment, so I can't guess about the procedural posture of the case.
There are many situations in litigation where you don't need case law at all. The judge is an expert in the law, and knows the law of contract pretty well in his or her head, chances are. Sometimes you just need to put the facts in a row, and state the legal principles at issue. Other times the law is more involved, and you need to show the court that the same issue or issues have come up before hierarchically superior courts whose precedent binds the judge, and that under the circumstances he or she ought to do the same thing. But again, I can't tell what the procedural posture of the case is, only that it's pretrial.
Not legal advice, just general principles. Consult California counsel to obtain legal advice you can rely on. I practice in Vermont ONLY.
Judges can and their assistants often do read additional cases and authority, particularly in the course of reviewing the legal arguments submitted by the parties.
For your sake, take your name out of the question.
Whether my opinion "is" legal advice "...depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is:" Here, "it" is not. "It" be a pithy musing, tempered by publication of "my" name.
There's a lot of good advice already here.
First, the point that you should be represented if this dispute is important to you is a good one and should be well-taken.
I respectfully disagree that you can count on a judge to know the law. Judges are politically appointed or elected, have different backgrounds prior to the bench, and while on the bench. Most of the time, it is not an issue, but a litigant should always be gauging how much and to what degree the litigant needs to educate the court, as that is a part of the litigant's job.
In law and motion, demurrers, etc., you should cite the laws (statutes, codes, caselaw) in your briefs. The Code of Civil Procedure sets out a briefing schedule. What's more, if you are the moving party, any significant issue should technically be raised in your moving papers, so that the other side has an opportunity to respond to it. Depending upon the judge, you may or may not get your point disregarded (though technically it should be) if it is put into a reply brief.
It doesn't surprise me that you find new caselaw that is better, after you've submitted papers. Knowing where to look and how to research are lawyer skills that one as a pro per probably doesn't have. While it is up to the judge, keep in mind that in California state courts, the law is that a judge has to treat a pro se/ pro per litigant the same as a represented party for all purposes. You may be given minimal slack but don't expect a judge to do your research for you.
It is possible that, depending on your case, the issue presented, location, etc. that the judge or a clerk, or a court research attorney, will do research on your issue and the judge might base his or her rulings on that research in addition to the papers. But you can't count on it, and you are best served by citing the best cases and codes and making the best arguments yourself.
I'll finish by taking it a step further. If you are self = represented, and you miss a legal issue, you affect your rights to appeal it. Issues not raised in the trial court, which could have, are deemed waived for appeal (generally). So there is that consideration, too.
This answer is not intended to be legal advice to be relied on by the asking individual, as legal advice of that level can only be provided after a review of necessary case materials and input from the asking party. Further, no other person should rely on this answer without consulting an attorney as to how it impacts on his or her case. No attorney-client relationship is formed by answering this question.
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