Wacky Stuff From the Court of Appeal

When bored, I often peruse the California Court of Appeal's daily list of unpublished opinions looking for stuff that is either interesting or just plain weird. Today did not disappoint in the "just plain weird" category.

In Santa Venetia Center for the Arts and Humanities v. San Rafael Unified School Dist (CA1/1), the plaintiff Artists group had contracted to buy some land from the School District, but eventually defaulted. The District sued to quiet title and evict the Artists. The Artists declared bankruptcy and then settled.

Apparently some of the Artists didn't like this, and hired a new lawyer to try to scotch the deal -- eventually resulting in this appeal. It didn't work. Before sanctioning both the Artists and their new attorney, the Court had this to say:

In sum, the artists lack standing to contest most of the matters they cite, their appeal is untimely as to anything of which they have standing to complain, their briefs are defective, their arguments lack merit and their attorney misrepresented the complexity of the issues, apparently as a means of delaying our consideration of the merits of the Artists’ arguments.

Ouch! The Court even went a step further and reported the artists' new attorney, Claire Leary, to the State Bar for possible disciplinary action.

In another case, Murrell v. Mankowski (CA2/6), two sisters fought bitterly over their deceased parents' estate. The prevailing sister, Mankowski, comes off clean as a whistle. The losing (and suing) sister, Murrell, is portrayed as a near-raving lunatic, and got herself declared a vexatious litigant into the bargain:

Notwithstanding Murrell's opposition to the vexatious litigant motion, which she captioned "Answer to False Charges of Being a Vexacious [sic] Litigant. This Motion Should be Titled, Nichols the Vexacious [sic] Perjurer and Liar!" the motion was granted.

The "Nichols" referenced in Murrell's caption is James R. Nichols, Jr., the "good" sister's attorney. Murrell, of course, was pro per.

In my opinion, either of these decisions is more entertaining than your average airport novel, not to mention anything you're likely to find on TV during the ungodly hours when you might actually have time to stare at it.