Statutory Construction Rules California
The court's ruling on the legal question of statutory construction: ( Poliak v. Board of Psychology (1997) 55 Cal. App. 4th 342, 348 63 Cal. Rptr. 2d 866 (hereafter Poliak)).
In Poliak, we outlined the settled rules governing statutory construction: " '. . . We begin with the fundamental premise that the objective of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent. "In determining intent, we look first to the language of the statute, giving effect to its 'plain meaning".
Although we may properly rely on extrinsic aids, we should first turn to the words of the statute to determine the intent of the Legislature.
Where the words of the statute are clear, we may not add to or alter them to accomplish a purpose that does not appear on the face of the statute or from its legislative history.
If the statutory language is clear and unambiguous, there is no need for construction.' (Poliak, supra, 55 Cal. App. 4th at p. 348).
Moreover, a particular provision must be construed with reference to the entire statutory scheme of which it forms a part in such a way that harmony may be achieved among the parts. ( People ex rel. Younger v. Superior Court (1976) 16 Cal. 3d 30, 40 127 Cal. Rptr. 122, 544 P.2d 1322).
The California Supreme Court recently adopted a construction which harmonized seemingly inconsistent paragraphs of the three strikes law, "rather than rewriting the statute in any way." ( People v. Garcia (1999) 21 Cal. 4th 1, 6 87 Cal. Rptr. 2d 114, 980 P.2d 829).
Specifically, the court rejected the Attorney General's proposal to rewrite Penal Code section 667, subdivision (d)(3)(D) to cross-reference statutory lists of serious and violent felonies because it ignored "necessary limitations on its proper role in statutory interpretation." ( Garcia, supra, at p. 14).
Given the divergent views on how the statute would best be corrected, the Supreme Court left "for the People and the Legislature the task of revising it as they deem wise." ( Id. at p. 15).
The Supreme Court cautioned that "consistant with the separation of powers doctrine (Cal. Const., art. III, 3), it had previously limited itself to relatively minor rewriting of statutes and, even then, only resorted to that drastic tool of construction when it was obvious that a word or number had been erroneously used or omitted." ( Id. at pp. 14-15).