Waiver of the right to a jury trial cannot be imposed as a sanction. In a Los Angeles unlawful detainer action, the pro per tenant (who was also pro per on appeal) appeared on the trial date without complying with a Los Angeles County Superior Court Civil Division unlawful detainer standing order. The court found “defendant had waived jury by not preparing for a jury trial,” and following a court trial, judgment was entered against her and possession of the premises was awarded to plaintiff. Because the court exceeded its authority in denying defendant’s right to be tried by a jury, the judgment was reversed.
The tenant/defendant had requested the Court to continue the matter to prepare jury instructions, etc. But the Court found the defendant not credible legal reason why she was not prepared for trial.
Code of Civil Procedure section 631, subdivision (f), sets forth the exclusive grounds for a jury waiver, and failure to prepare for trial is not listed. Showing up for trial unprepared may subject a party to monetary sanctions, but it does not constitute a waiver of the right to jury, and a court has no power under these circumstances to refuse to conduct a jury trial.
Guo Zhang Chen v. Lin (Cal. App. Dep’t Super. Ct., Nov. 14, 2019, No. BV 033055) 2019 WL 6341283