California Code Code of Civil Procedure Section 1008 - Interpretation

Remsen v. Lavacot (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 421, found that California Code, Code of Civil Procedure section 1008 did not restrict a court's power to reconsider, but rejected the distinction between a trial court's sua sponte reconsideration of its own rulings and motions brought by litigants. There, the trial court had initially ruled that the beneficiaries of a trust were entitled to interest on their bequests. ( Id. at p. 424.) After the trustees filed a motion for reconsideration, the court modified its prior order and held the beneficiaries were not entitled to interest. ( Id. at p. 425.) On appeal, the beneficiaries argued that section 1008 deprived the trial court of jurisdiction to reconsider its original order. Remsen acknowledged that section 1008, subdivision (e) made the statute applicable to both interim and final orders, and subdivision (c) limited the court's sua sponte power to cases in which there had been a change in the law. ( Id. at p. 426.) It reasoned, "notwithstanding section 1008, however, the court retained its inherent jurisdiction to modify interim orders." (Ibid.) "The court's inherent power to correct its own rulings is based on the California Constitution and cannot be impaired by statute." (Ibid.) Remsen found it immaterial whether the trial court was acting sua sponte or was reconsidering its prior decision in response to a litigant's motion. "Whether the trial judge has an unprovoked flash of understanding in the middle of the night or is prompted to rethink an issue by the stimulus of a motion is 'constitutionally immaterial' to the limitation on the power of the Legislature to regulate the judiciary. " ( Id. at p. 427.)