Stipulated Request to Reverse Judgment in California

After the enactment in 1999 of Code of Civil Procedure section 128, subdivision (a)(8), civil judgments "now belongs to the public-not the parties-and the public indisputably has an interest in their continuing existence." (Muccianti v. Willow Creek Care Center (2003) 108 Cal.App.4th 13, 15 (Muccianti).) As Muccianti makes clear, parties no longer can assume that a joint request "unquestionably will be granted" and that the judgment belongs "solely to them to use in a manner that is in their best interests." (Ibid.) "The judicial inquiry is no longer whether 'extraordinary circumstances' warrant denial of a request for stipulated reversal, an enterprise not likely to receive much enthusiastic assistance from the parties, but whether the parties have satisfactorily demonstrated that reversal would not adversely affect the interests of nonparties or the public, erode the public trust, or reduce the incentive for pretrial settlement. (Hardisty v. Hinton & Alfert (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 999, 1006 (Hardisty) denying stipulated request to reverse judgment.) The statute requires that this court find both "there is no reasonable possibility that the interests of nonparties or the public will be adversely affected by the reversal" and that the parties' reasons for requesting reversal outweigh the detrimental impact caused by reversing a judgment resulting from a jury verdict following trial. (Code Civ. Proc., 128, subd. (a)(8).) In Hardisty, supra, 124 Cal.App.4th at p. 1008, the Court of Appeal denied a similarly unexplained stipulated request. "But though we have the trial court's rulings, . . . we cannot determine from the rulings alone whether those are the only consequences, and, as we discuss presently, the nature of some of the trial court's findings suggest other possible consequences. Nor do we know the reason or reasons the parties request stipulated reversal, and we are therefore in no position to determine whether, as the parties claim, those reasons outweigh the erosion of public trust that may result from nullification of the judgment." (Id. at p. 1009.)