Judgement Without Defense Evidence - Civil Code 631.8
Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8 provides in part: "(a) After a party has completed his presentation of evidence in a trial by the court, the other party, without waiving his right to offer evidence in support of his defense or in rebuttal in the event the motion is not granted, may move for a judgment.
The court as trier of the facts shall weigh the evidence and may render a judgment in favor of the moving party . . . ." the purpose of Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8 is "to enable the court, when it finds at the completion of plaintiff's case that the evidence does not justify requiring the defense to produce evidence, to weigh evidence and make findings of fact." (Pettus v. Cole (1996) 49 Cal. App. 4th 402, 424.)
"The standard of review after a trial court issues judgment pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8 is the same as if the court had rendered judgment after a completed trial--that is, in reviewing the questions of fact decided by the trial court, the substantial evidence rule applies.
An appellate court must view the evidence most favorably to the respondents and uphold the judgment if there is any substantial evidence to support it.
However where, as here, we are called upon to review a conclusion of law based on undisputed facts, we are not bound by the trial court's decision and are free to draw our own conclusions of law." (Pettus v. Cole, supra, 49 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 424-425.)
The interpretation of a statute presents a question of law for our independent review. (California Teachers Assn. v. San Diego Community College Dist. (1981) 28 Cal. 3d 692, 699, 170 Cal. Rptr. 817, 621 P.2d 856.)
Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8 expressly states that a motion under that statute does not waive the moving party's "right to offer evidence in support of his defense or in rebuttal in the event the motion is not granted . . . ." Where the grant of a section 631.8 motion is being reversed on appeal, "the situation is the same as if the motion had not been granted.
Accordingly, defendants are entitled to present evidence in support of their defense or in rebuttal." (Pinsker v. Pacific Coast Soc. of Orthodontists (1969) 1 Cal. 3d 160, 167, 81 Cal. Rptr. 623, 460 P.2d 495.)