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I won my smalls claims case and the defendant filed an appeal in "bad faith". Should I mention that to the judge?

Los Angeles, CA |

I am the plaintiff and won my small claims case. The defendant is making an appeal in "bad faith." Should I mention this in my opening statement to the superior court judge (or bring it up at all?) or will the judge automatically question the defendant as to why he appealed the case? (i.e. misunderstanding evidence or making an error in the application of the law)

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

I am not familiar with your state, your court, your judge, or your case, and you should listen to what the California lawyers have to say. But my advice is, absolutely do not say anything of the kind. Nothing. You keep your dignity, argue the merits of your case, and stay out of the gutter. Judges hate personal slights and aspersions. Don't do it.

Good luck on your case.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall


No California lawyer could have said it better!


Dear ?,

First of all, you are not qualified to determine whether an appeal is in bad faith.
Secondly, you apparently don't understand the appeals process in small claims court. When the defendant files his notice of appeal, he gets a de novo hearing, that is, a new trial. Any ruling made so far in your case has been abrogated by the filing of the notice of appeal and is not binding on the superior court. Furthermore, the superior court is not going to decide any issues of law which may have arisen in prior proceedings because this is a completely NEW trial. (To be clear you understand this: It makes no difference if the defendant misunderstood evidence or made an error in application of law or if the previous judge did so. The statutes grant the defendant an appeal of right and that appeal is a new trial.) You have to be prepared to present evidence at this new trial in superior court proving you are entitled to the relief you requested in your complaint.
So NO, you should not be claiming the defendant's appeal is in bad faith because that issue is irrelevant.

Yours sincerely,
Tim Provis
Cal. Bar No. 104800
Wis. Bar No. 1020123
Member: U.S. Supreme Court Bar



Anyone who spent 5 minutes with my neighbors would be qualified to determine it was in bad faith.


Basically, you should act as though the original proceeding never happened. It just doesn't matter. The new hearing is "de novo," which basically means you are starting all over again. The judge who hears the appeal won't pay any attention to what the small claims judge did. It's completely irrelevant.

In general, you should probably avoid the words "bad faith" as to anything and everything the other side said and did. They are overused and not persuasive. You should definitely avoid that expression in how you characterize the defendants' decision to appeal. Just present the evidence in your case. The judge will quickly make up his or her mind if someone is acting in bad faith, and your accusations won't be of any help to him or her. Professionalism, on the other hand, will be appreciated.


I disagree with all of my colleagues here. If you have "slam dunk, no-can-loose case" (something no lawyer would ever say) then, yes, mention to the judge that the appeal was in bad faith. An example would be that he rand a red light, with a red light camera, a police report was taken with witness statements all saying he rand a red light, there are damages estimates of your car indicating that you have $'X' in damages, you have medical bills showing $'Y' in damages, and the only reason to appeal is to delay the inevitable...

E reason you mention it to teethe judge is that you MAYbeableto get more money. Specifically Cal Code of Civil Procedure 116.780(c) indicates if you are the prevailing plaintiff on appeal, you can get $150 to compensate to for your,it's wages and travel expenses, plus $150 in attorney's fees. If the appeal is brought in bad faith, under section 116.790' the amounts are raised to $1,000 for both. So it is in your financial interest to advise the court of thebadfaith appeal.

-Adam Jaffe Law Office of Adam Jay Jaffe PO Box 2437 Camarillo, CA 93011-2437 (805) 504-2223 This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice". Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different states.