Sotomayor v. Sotomayor-Munoz (CA1 3/28/16)

This is what can happen when the Supreme Court decides that every cause of action or niche practice deserves its own set of rules.

Mother filed an FED action against Daughter. The trial court entered judgment for Mother. Daughter moved to set it aside under Rule 15 of the eviction rules. The court denied it. Daughter appealed one day later but that was almost 90 days after the judgment.

ARCAP 9 lists the time-extending motions but doesn’t mention any eviction rules. So the court goes on to consider whether the order on a Rule 15 motion is itself appealable as  a “special order . . . after final judgment.” Rules 59 (new trial) and 60(c) are;  the grounds for a Rule 15 motion “overlap” those rules “but are not directly analogous.” An order after judgment is “special” – i.e., appealable – if it raises different issues than an appeal from the judgment would and if it relates to the judgment, its enforcement, or its execution. Daughter argued that her motion was akin to a new trial; the court decides, based on the details of her particular arguments, that it was more of a challenge to the merits of the judgment. It therefore fails the “different issue” test. Appeal dismissed.

So the law is that an Eviction Rule 15 motion might be appealable when it is but isn’t when it isn’t.

That’s not the Court of Appeals’ fault. Our guess is that the eviction people would have wanted Rule 15 to be time-extending but that they forgot, unlike the family law people, to hook their rules into ARCAP 9. We blame it on the Supreme Court for allowing, and at times encouraging, the balkanization of the rules. With vanishingly few exceptions these separate rules are necessary only to the ease and self-esteem of those who use them.

(Opinion: Sotomayor v. Sotomayor-Munoz)