Code of Civil Procedure Section 907
Code of Civil Procedure Section 907 provides:
"When it appears to the reviewing court that the appeal was frivolous or taken solely for delay, it may add to the costs on appeal such damages as may be just." Rule 8.276 (a) of the California Rules of Court gives us the authority to "impose sanctions . . . on a party or an attorney for: . . . Taking a frivolous appeal or appealing solely to cause delay."
The California Supreme Court has explained that "an appeal should be held to be frivolous only when it is prosecuted for an improper motive--to harass the respondent or delay the effect of an adverse judgment--or when it indisputably has no merit--when any reasonable attorney would agree that the appeal is totally and completely without merit." (In re Marriage of Flaherty (1982) 31 Cal.3d 637, 650 (Flaherty).)
In determining whether an appeal indisputably has no merit, California cases have applied both subjective and objective standards. The subjective standard looks to the motives of the appealing party and his or her attorney, while the objective standard looks at the merits of the appeal from a reasonable person's perspective. (See Flaherty, supra, 31 Cal.3d at pp. 649-650.)
Whether the party or attorney acted in an honest belief there were grounds for appeal makes no difference if any reasonable person would agree the grounds for appeal were totally and completely devoid of merit. (In re Walters' Estate (1950) 99 Cal.App.2d 552, 558.)
The objective and subjective standards "are often used together, with one providing evidence of the other. Thus, the total lack of merit of an appeal is viewed as evidence that appellant must have intended it only for delay." (Flaherty, supra, 31 Cal.3d at pp. 649-650.)
An unsuccessful appeal, however, "'should not be penalized as frivolous if it presents a unique issue which is not indisputably without merit, or involves facts which are not amenable to easy analysis in terms of existing law, or makes a reasoned argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.'" (Dodge, Warren & Peters Ins. Services, Inc. v. Riley (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 1414, 1422.)