Presumption of Correctness of the Lower Court in California

In Denham v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 557, the court stated: "It is settled that: 'A judgment or order of the lower court is presumed correct. All intendments and presumptions are indulged to support it on matters as to which the record is silent, and error must be affirmatively shown by the appellant. This is not only a general principle of appellate practice but an ingredient of the constitutional doctrine of reversible error.'" (Id. at p. 564.) "A necessary corollary to this rule is that if the record is inadequate for meaningful review, the appellant defaults and the decision of the trial court should be affirmed." (Mountain Lion Coalition v. Fish & Game Com. (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 1043, 1051, fn. 9.) Alternatively stated, "a record is inadequate, and appellant defaults, if the appellant predicates error only on the part of the record he provides the trial court, but ignores or does not present to the appellate court portions of the proceedings below which may provide grounds upon which the decision of the trial court could be affirmed." (Uniroyal Chemical Co. v. American Vanguard Corp. (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 285, 302.) "The burden of affirmatively demonstrating error is on the appellant." (Fundamental Investment etc. Realty Fund v. Gradow (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 966, 971.) The appellant has the burden to provide an adequate record on appeal to allow the reviewing court to assess the purported error. (Maria P. v. Riles (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1281, 1295; Gee v. American Realty & Construction, Inc. (2002) 99 Cal.App.4th 1412, 1416.) If the record on appeal does not contain all of the documents or other evidence submitted to the trial court, a reviewing court will "decline to find error on a silent record, and thus infer substantial evidence" supports the trial court's findings. (Haywood v. Superior Court (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 949, 955.) "When the trial court has resolved a disputed factual issue, the appellate courts review the ruling according to the substantial evidence rule. If the trial court's resolution of the factual issue is supported by substantial evidence, it must be affirmed." (Winograd v. American Broadcasting Co. (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 624, 632.) The substantial evidence standard of review involves two steps. "First, one must resolve all explicit conflicts in the evidence in favor of the respondent and presume in favor of the judgment all reasonable inferences. Second, one must determine whether the evidence thus marshaled is substantial. While it is commonly stated that our 'power' begins and ends with a determination that there is substantial evidence , this does not mean we must blindly seize any evidence in support of the respondent in order to affirm the judgment. . . . 'If the word "substantial" is to mean anything at all, it clearly implies that such evidence must be of ponderable legal significance. Obviously the word cannot be deemed synonymous with "any" evidence. It must be reasonable . . . , credible, and of solid value . . . .' The ultimate determination is whether a reasonable trier of fact could have found for the respondent based on the whole record." (Kuhn v. Department of General Services (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1627, 1632-1633.) "The power of an appellate court begins and ends with the determination as to whether, on the entire record, there is substantial evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, which will support the determination, and when two or more inferences can reasonably be deduced from the facts, a reviewing court is without power to substitute its deductions for those of the trial court. If such substantial evidence be found, it is of no consequence that the trial court believing other evidence, or drawing other reasonable inferences, might have reached a contrary conclusion." (Bowers v. Bernards (1984) 150 Cal.App.3d 870, 873-874.)