Attorney Declaration Suffices For Fee Substantiation At State Court Level, Surmounting Hearsay Objection Based On Business Records Exception.
In City of Indian Wells v. Lawellin, Case No. E060000 (4th Dist., Div. 2 June 11, 2015) (unpublished), City of Indian Wells prevailed in a dispute over a local ordinance limiting height of hedges to nine feet, where the defendants lost in a real magillah over ficus tree hedge heights with a neighbor. City obtained an abatement warrant, with a local ordinance allowing fees/costs—inspiring the trial court to award $97,835.84 in fees and abatement costs (out of a requested $106,492.40 in fees and $1,541.10 in code enforcement costs, even though $2,830 was added “fees on fees” for City’s reply fee papers).
On appeal, defendants got no break. The appellate court viewed the $11,000 reduction in requested and fees/costs to be reasonable in nature. With respect to substantiation, an attorney declaration alone—without detailed fee billings—sufficed for state court substantiation, and attorney’s testimony also substantiated the billings against a hearsay objection given that they fell within the business records exception. Affirmed.