February 18, 2015

Following a Court Order

A sure-fire way to get into a legal predicament is to disobey a court order. Failure to abide by a court order is grounds for dismissal of an appeal. The term for this is the disentitlement doctrine. This legal remedy was recently applied in an unpublished opinion involving a misbehaving party from San Bernardino County Superior Court. Blumberg v. Minthorne, Case # PRODS1000744.

Following a bench trial pertaining to a probate matter, a judge ordered the petitioner to file an accounting by a certain date and quit-claim a property to her step-grandson. She failed to do either and in the meantime, filed an appeal. Her appeal was then dismissed because of her inability to comply with both aspects of  the court order. In light of the opinion, it is not hard to see how she failed to comply.

In regards to quit-claiming the property to her step-grandson, the opinion states:

"The second issue is the conveyance of the property. Gloria's conduct with respect to this issue is, to put it bluntly, despicable. She was ordered to quitclaim the property to Adam. She failed to do so. The court set an OSC. On the same day she filed an opposition to the OSC, she recorded a quitclaim to her daughter at 4:10 in the afternoon. The opposition does not mention this, instead suggesting a number of options in lieu of quitclaiming the property to Adam, including staying the transfer, appointing a neutral trustee, or staying transfer upon a reasonable bond. She was utterly dishonest with the court."

In a nutshell, the petitioner was supposed to transfer the property to her step-grandson. Instead she transfers the property to her daughter. Hmmmm.

For reference, "OSC" stands for "order to show cause." This hearing is typically scheduled when something has gone awry in a case and the court needs a status update. If a party has not conducted themselves appropriately, sanctions can be assessed (monetary penalties).

Naturally, the appellate court did not look kindly upon the petitioner's appeal:

"Gloria's conduct since the judgment has frustrated the attempts of the court to legitimately effect its own orders. She has missed court dates, failed to keep her own promises, lacked candor in her communications with the court, and ignored the court's orders. She cannot therefore now seek relief from the appellate court. The disentitlement doctrine applies."

The court of appeal then, not surprisingly, dismissed her appeal.