Thursday, May 23, 2019

People v. Astorga-Lider (Cal. Ct. App. - May 22, 2019)

I'm glad there are cases (and procedures) like this one.

Criminal Defendant fraudulently gets Victim to sign various mortgage documents by pretending that they're something else, and funnels the money to herself.  She steals several million dollars that way.  She ultimately pleads guilty and is sentenced to 11 years is prison.

There's a rule that says that, as part of a criminal proceeding, the trial court is allowed to declare false or forged documents to be precisely that.  Thankfully.  So the trial court does so.  But the adversely affected lender (Deo) appeals, saying that you can't do that in a criminal case -- that it's a civil matter (and that the civil rule is different).

But it seems to me that you can indeed short circuit things when you've already resolved the relevant criminal case.  I'm not entirely sure I'm super excited about affecting third party rights through such a procedure (like here).  But it seems at least tolerable.  And if we already know that someone's been criminally tricked into signing a document, more than likely, it seems like you're entitled to get out of the thing.

Without having to go through a year or two of expensive litigation.