EL CENTRO — The Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District, Division One of the Superior Court of California, County of Imperial held a special Oral Argument session on Wednesday afternoon. The session was open to the public and held at the Southwest High School Performing Arts Theater.
The outreach program was designed to help students and members of the public understand the Appellate Court process. The public was welcomed and encouraged to attend. Students and teachers from each Imperial Valley high school were bused to the Southwest theater for the event. Audience members were provided a brief summary of the cases by counsel before each case and observed the attorneys argue their cases and respond to inquiries before the Court.
Two cases were heard by the Court at the event. People v. Jones (D067526) consisted of a jury convicting defendant Mae Philip Jones of assault by means of force likely to cause corporal injury to a cohabitant by pinning down and forcibly taking the engagement ring he had given his fiancée off her finger. Jones appealed, arguing that the evidence presented at trial did not establish a “traumatic condition”, an element of the corporal injury charge.
The second case, Bonano v. Mejorado (D065764), was in regards to loaned money for an investment. In 2006, appellent Gregg Bonano borrowed $280,000 to purchase an investment property in Pine Valley. She later failed to pay back the loan, and in September 2007 she sued the lender and others who were involved in arranging the loan (together referred to as the defendants) in Imperial County Superior Court, contending that they misled her into believing the property had been inspected to ensure that it did not have any problems, when in fact no such inspection was done and the property did not have serious problems. The defendants originally failed to appear in the action and Bonano obtained a default judgement against them.
In 2008, however, the court granted the defendants’ request to set aside the default judgement and the action went forward. In August 2013, at the defendant’s request, the court set the case for trial in December. After numerous additional motions by the parties, the Superior Court dismissed the case based on Bonano’s failure to bring her claims to trial within five years. Bonano appealed, arguing that the Superior Court erred in dismissing her action because the five year period for bringing it to trial was tolled (that is, stopped running).
Judges were given 60 days to submit their written opinion regarding the cases. After the session was concluded, the Justices gave an opportunity for students and attendees to ask questions concerning the Court of Appeals. Students asked questions such as, “What is the process to becoming a judge?,” “What is the most important aspect of a case?”, and “Is being a judge on television the same as in real life?.”