The VLS statute specifies that there is no defined time period for filing motions, which mirrors the Shalant holding that motions in one civil case do not qualify as new litigation as defined pursuant to CCP 391.(a).
A new published case by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, has allocated a new meaning to the mandatory time frame for deciding any motion for new trial once filed as the time limit in section 660 is jurisdictional. Consequently an order granting a motion for new trial beyond the relevant 60 day time period is void.
The case has relevance for any civil family law proceeding where litigation has been received and forwarded and file stamped as received. Pursuant to California rules of court 1.20 (a) litigation is deemed filed once it has been received by the clerk.
“The power of a trial court to rule on a motion for a new trial expires 60 days after (1) the clerk mails the notice of entry of judgment, or (2) a party serves written notice of entry of judgment on the party moving for a new trial, whichever is earlier, or if no such notice is given, then 60 days after filing of the first notice of intent to move for a new trial. (§ 660.) If the motion for a new trial is not ruled upon within the 60-day time period, then ‘the effect shall be a denial of the motion without further order of the court.’ (§ 660.) The 60-day time limit provided in section 660 is jurisdictional. Consequently, an order granting a motion for a new trial beyond the relevant 60-day time period is void for lack of jurisdiction.” (Dakota Payphone, LLC v. Alcaraz (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 493, 500; see Mercer v. Perez (1968) 68 Cal.2d 104, 123; Siegal v. Superior Court (1968) 68 Cal.2d 97, 101.)
Section 659, governing new trial motions, provides in part: “(a) The party intending to move for a new trial shall file with the clerk and serve upon each adverse party a notice of his or her intention to move for a new trial, designating the grounds upon which the motion will be made and whether the same will be made upon affidavits or the minutes of the court, or both, either: [¶] (1) After the decision is rendered and before the entry of judgment. [¶] (2) Within 15 days of the date of mailing notice of entry of judgment by the clerk of the court pursuant to Section 664.5, or service upon him or her by any party of written notice of entry of judgment . . . .”
“[C]ompliance with the 15-day requirement of section 659 is jurisdictional,” and absent compliance a trial court is “without power to entertain the motion.” (Tri-County Elevator Co. v. Superior Court (1982) 135 Cal.App.3d 271, 277.)