Kaufman & Broad Communities, Inc. v. Performance Plastering, Inc., 133 Cal.App.4th 26 (2005)

When citing legislative history to a California state court, you need to start with this opinion. Whether that’s a good thing is a whole different question.

The Court of Appeal in Kaufman & Broad exhaustively listed which documents the Third Appellate District – and presumptively other courts as well since we have a unified Court of Appeal – constitute legislative history, and which do not, with case citations for every point. Briefly, any document which appears to reflect the collective action of the Legislature or could have been considered by the Legislature before voting on a bill is in and will be judicially noticed. Any other document is out and will not be judicially noticed.

Left unexplored is why the whole matter has become an evidentiary issue at all. In federal court, counsel cite to what they think is legislative history and courts either give it weight or not. And in Mangini v. R.J. Reynolds Co., 7 Cal.4th 1057, 1064 (1994), the California Supreme Court, while granting a request for judicial notice of legislative history materials, noted that “a simple citation to some of the readily available published material, such as excerpts from the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News, would have sufficed.” [Download]