Law School Case Brief
Keeler v. Superior Court of Sacramento Cty. - 46 Cal. 2d 596, 297 P.2d 967 (1956)
Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1094.5(a) provides that where the writ is issued for the purpose of inquiring into the validity of any final administrative order or decision made as the result of a proceeding in which by law a hearing is required to be given, evidence is required to be taken and discretion in the determination of facts is vested in the inferior tribunal proceedings shall be conducted in the manner there specified.
After the employer suspended petitioner state employee Keeler for 10 days without pay due to the state employee's refusal to perform a certain duty, the state employee sought review by the state personnel board from the order of suspension. The appeal was decided against the state employee, and the state employee filed a petition for a writ of mandate with the respondent superior court to set aside the suspension and expunge all record of the action taken by the board. The superior court granted the board's motion for an order referring the matter back to the board for the board to take evidence and make findings on the affirmative defenses. The state employee petitioned the instant court (the Supreme Court of California) in mandamus to compel the superior court to hear and determine the previous writ.
Did the state superior court have the power to remand a cause in mandamus for further proceedings for a proper determination?
The Supreme Court of California held that the plain language of Cal. Gov't Code §§ 19576, 19578 required that the state personnel board conduct an investigation, but did not require a hearing following the suspension. Because the board had not conducted a hearing, the Court held that the superior court was entitled to, in the exercise of its inherent power, remand the case for further proceedings before undertaking to decide the state employee's writ of mandate. There was no question but that, consistent with proper regulations, a court has inherent power to control the course of litigation before it. This includes the power to remand a cause in mandamus for further proceedings which are deemed necessary for a proper determination. It is noted that Section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure authorizes a reviewing court to "enter judgment . . . remanding the case to be reconsidered in the light of" evidence "which, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have been produced or which was improperly excluded at the hearing before the respondent . . .." However, aside from statutory provisions, such a power to remand also exists under the inherent powers of the court. Because the instant cause was not one in which the superior court was acting to review an administrative decision after a hearing, the Court found no reason why the superior court could not, in the exercise of its inherent power, remand the case for further proceedings before undertaking to decide the petitioner's application.
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