In recent years, the California Judicial Council has made several changes to court forms used by California process servers. The goals of such changes range from ensuring that the forms are legally effective to updating the formatting and cross-references to streamlining the filing process. Among the changes was the amendment of California Rules of Court Rule 1.42 (CRC 1.42).
Based on the recommendation of members of the Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee of the Judicial Council, a ninth rule regarding instances when forms are not to be rejected was added: “(9) The form is not the latest version of the form adopted or approved by the Judicial Council.”
The rationale is best explained in the October 6, 2006 Report on Required Use of the Latest Version of a Judicial Council Form (http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/102006ItemA15.pdf):
[P]arties, particularly self-represented litigants, sometimes inadvertently use an earlier version of a Judicial Council form. Although the use of such a form is undesirable, the form may be legally sufficient. There are a variety of reasons that forms are revised, including reformatting, style changes, and corrections to crossreferences.
If a person uses an out-of-date form, a judicial officer needs to determine if the form is legally sufficient. Because legal sufficiency of a form is a judicial rather than a clerical function, it should not be delegated to a clerk to determine whether a Judicial Council form should be filed. For this reason, an additional amendment should be made to rule 1.42. Specifically, the subdivision with the list of the reasons that a clerk must not reject a Judicial Council form for filing should be amended to add the following reason: “The form is not the latest version of the form adopted or approved by the Judicial Council.” (See rule 1.42(9).)
Without knowledge of CRC 1.42(9), an otherwise acceptable court filing could be rejected and the party may not know any better. We have listed all of the reasons that forms cannot be rejected below.
California Rules of Court Rule 1.42. Forms not to be rejected
A court must not reject for filing a Judicial Council form for any of the following reasons:
- The form lacks the preprinted title and address of the court;
- The form lacks the name of the clerk;
- The preprinted title and address of another court or its clerk's name is legibly modified;
- The form lacks the court's local form number;
- The form lacks any other material added by a court, unless the material is required by the Judicial Council;
- The form is printed by a publisher or another court;
- The form is imprinted with the name or symbol of the publisher, unless the name or symbol replaces or obscures any material on the printed form;
- The form is legibly and obviously modified to correct a code section number or to comply with the law under which the form is filed; or
- The form is not the latest version of the form adopted or approved by the Judicial Council.
Rule 1.42 adopted effective January 1, 2007