Friday, June 07, 2019

People v. Smalling (App. Div. Sup. Ct. - June 7, 2019)

On the "low level litigation" front, here's a neat little published opinion from the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.  It holds that restitution is mandatory even for infractions (e.g., traffic tickets).

The defendant here pled guilty to having her pit bull kill a service dog, the result of which was a fine of $157.  But the owner of the dog who was killed then demanded restitution, which the trial court (a temporary judge) denied, saying that the owner could sue civilly if she wanted, but couldn't obtain a restitution order in a case involving an infraction.

But the Appellate Division disagreed.  It may be an infraction, but it's still a crime.  And restitution is mandatory in all criminal cases.

So it's going to end up being a lot more than $157.  (Plus, unlike the judgment in a civil suit, an order for restitution likely isn't covered by one's homeowners policy.)

One final note.  It's rare that the order of a temporary judge (a "pro tem") is made the subject of a published opinion, so I looked up the judge at issue, who's listed as Andrew K. Kim.  To my surprise, there's no lawyer or judge in California listed with that name; the closest you get is a "Peter Andrew Kim," which I'm fairly confident is someone else.  So I contacted Mr. Google, and discovered that there is a lawyer listed with that name, but in a way I'd never seen before.  The State Bar's records for Ki Hyon Kim list his "aka" as Andrew Kim, and he works at the "Law Office of Andrew K Kim."  So I assume that's him.  I've just never seen an a.k.a. in an official Bar record before.  Learn something new every day.