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Probate Law & Motion

PLEASE NOTE:  Masks need not be worn in the courthouse if you are fully vaccinated.

Persons are considered vaccinated two weeks after the final dose in a primary series of vaccinations.

All unvaccinated persons entering any Sonoma County Superior Courthouse, including any remote jury selection location, shall wear a face covering at all times compliant with all California State Health Orders and CAL/OSHA standards which must completely cover both the nose and mouth. 

Court Call is not permitted for this calendar.

Advisements

If the tentative ruling is accepted, no appearance by Zoom is necessary unless otherwise indicated. You must notify the probate clerk at (707) 521-6893 if you wish to be heard in response to the tentative ruling. You must inform the clerk concerning your appearance choice: Zoom or in person. Any interested party who wishes to be heard in opposition to a petition must notify all other parties of the intent to appear. Both notifications must be completed no later than 4:00 p.m. on the court day immediately preceding the day of the hearing.

Unless notification to the probate clerk has been given as provided above, the tentative rulings shall become the rulings of the court at 3:15 p.m. on the day of the hearing. 

To Join Department 23 “Zoom” Online

To Join Department 23 “Zoom” By Phone:

  • Call: +1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose) and enter same meeting ID and password as listed above. 

Guide for Participating in Court Proceedings via Zoom for Dept 23:

  • After joining the meeting and checking in with the clerk, please mute your audio when not speaking. This helps keep background noise to a minimum.
  • Be mindful of background noise when your microphone is not muted. Avoid activities that could create additional noise, such as shuffling papers.
  • Position your camera properly if you choose to use a web camera. Be sure it is in a stable position and focused at eye level, if possible. Make sure everything visible in the frame is appropriate for an appearance in court.
  • If a confidential session becomes necessary it is incumbent on you to ensure you are able to participate from a private location so that unauthorized people cannot overhear or see the proceedings.
  • Chat is enabled for the sharing of documents among participants and the court and to allow attorneys to communicate individually with each other or their clients only. No chat messages should be sent privately to the court as it would amount to an unauthorized ex parte communication. Neither should chat messages be sent to all participants unless directed by the court.
  • The recording function has been disabled. Remember, the prohibition against recording court proceedings, even remote ones, remains.
  • Be patient. Check in will take more time and the experience from those who have tried this before is that proceedings are a little slower generally.

Tentative Rulings

June 13, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. 

  1. Matter of Yvette M. Peline Trust SPR096067; Matter of Melissa M. Peline Trust SPR096412; Simoncini v. Luci SCV270908
    Motion for Consolidation of Probate Actions with Civil Action

Tentative Ruling:  The motion to consolidate two probate actions with the civil action is DENIED. Counsel for Kenneth D. Simoncini is ordered to submit a proposed order that conforms to this ruling.

While the probate matters of the Yvette M. Peline Trust, SPR096067, and the Melissa M. Peline Trust, SPR096412 involve similar questions of fact and law, the Court finds consolidation with the civil case of Simoncini v. Luci, SCV270908, inappropriate.  The factual summary in the moving parties’ memorandum of points and authorities, filed April 12, 2024, pages 3-5, sections A through E, provides a succinct summary of the procedural history and nature of the cases and is adopted by the Court.  As to whether an agreement was reached to consolidate the cases, the written correspondence speaks for itself, and the Court finds there was no agreement by all parties.  At the case management conference (CMC) hearing on February 29, 2024, held in part for the purpose of discussing possible consolidation, the Court did not order consolidation at the end of the hearing, and was left with the understanding that all parties did not agree to consolidation at that time.  In fact, the Court’s impression was that there remained a disagreement about what issues would or should be tried first, and whether trial by jury on the legal issues or by the court on equitable issues would be first, should the matters be consolidated.  The Court left open the ability of any party to pursue a motion to consolidate, should they wish to do so.    

Now presented with a contested motion, this Court finds that consolidation would be contrary to and effectively invalidate prior orders of the court in the civil case. On December 21, 2022, the Honorable Judge Elliott Lee Daum (“Judge Daum”) ordered the civil action to mediation, then arbitration, in accordance with the partnership agreement. Judge Daum’s order, signed January 9, 2023, stays the civil action until completion of arbitration. As recently as April 17, 2024, Judge Daum granted an ex parte application to compel Melissa Luci to move forward with arbitration. Therefore, the Court will not order consolidation here, as doing so would circumvent and thwart the orders of the court in the civil matter.  The Court is aware that a motion for reconsideration by Judge Daum is set for hearing July 25, 2024.

Regarding judicial notice, a trial court may properly take judicial notice of the records of any court of record of any state of the United States. California Evidence Code §452(d). However, a court cannot take judicial notice of hearsay allegations as being true, just because they are part of a court record or file. A court may take judicial notice of the existence of each document in a court file, but can only take judicial notice of the truth of facts asserted in documents such as orders, findings of fact and conclusions of law, and judgments. Day v. Sharp (1975) 50 Cal. App. 3d 904, 914.  Accordingly, the Court takes judicial notice as specified below.           

  1. The existence of Sonoma County Superior Court Order dated September 2, 2022, in the matter styled In the Matter of The Melissa M. Peline Irrevocable Trust dated September 19, 1998, Case No. SPR096412 is judicially noticed.
  1. The existence of Melissa Luci’s Reply Brief in support of Motion to Compel Arbitration in the matter styled Simoncini, et al. v. Luci, et al., Sonoma County Superior Court Case, Case No. SCV270908 is judicially noticed. The truthfulness and proper interpretation of the contents of the document are not.

This matter is calendared on August 8, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. in Department 23.  The Court finds it appropriate to set a hearing after the Court in SCV270908 has ruled on the motion for reconsideration.  If the civil matter continues to arbitration, the Court is inclined to stay these probate proceedings pending the outcome of that arbitration.  However, the Court will discuss whether that is appropriate, or whether trial should be re-set, at the CMC hearing.  Parties may file statements of issues at least seven days prior to the CMC hearing addressing this question if so desired.

 

  1. Matter  of Woodliff Family Trust 1987
    SPR097075

Motion to Enter Judgment and Enforce Settlement Pursuant to C.C.P §664.6

Tentative Ruling: There is no proof of service of this motion in the court’s file. The hearing for this motion is CONTINUED to August 1, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. in Department 23. The purpose of the continuance is to allow the moving party an opportunity to timely serve code-compliant notice of this proceeding upon all necessary parties and file proof(s) of service.

 

***End Of Tentative Rulings***

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