A quick primer on Code of Civil Procedure 394(a), removal to a neutral county
January 8, 2013 Leave a comment
This is a complicated statute, one that originated in the 1872 code, and therefore can be difficult to parse. California Code of Civil Procedure section 394(a) allows, in a suit between a local government agency against a party who resides in another county, transfer to a neutral third county. The code is a removal statute, not a venue statute, so the suit needs to be filed like any other suit. When I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, a corporation tried to sue the City of San Bernardino in Orange County for declaratory relief. It was kicked back to San Bernardino County.
The purpose of this provision “is to guard against local bias that may exist in favor of litigants within a county as against those from without the county, and to ensure that both parties have a trial on neutral territory.” [Citations omitted]. There is no need for a party seeking transfer to demonstrate actual prejudice because the statute “is designed to obviate the appearance of prejudice as well as actual prejudice or bias.” Arntz Builders v. Superior Court (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 1195, 1203.
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