Diathesis And The California Courts


Yesterday’s post discussed how the meaning of “must” in Nevada Revised Statutes can depend upon whether a verb is in the passive voice. Here in California, I’ve made frequent sightings of discussions of the passive voice in opinions, including the following:

  • Capo for Better Representation v. Kelley, 158 Cal.App.4th 1455 (2008) (“The Legislature could have used the vaguer, passive voice for the residence requirement (e.g., “Each signers will personally sign the petition, on which the residence of the signer shall be printed”) and in fact it did use the passive voice for another requirement set forth in section 100 (the need for the consecutive numbering in the format of the petition). But it did not use the passive voice for the affixation-of-residence requirement. The contrast in voices underscores the intent of the Legislature for personal affixation by “each signer” of his or her residence address.”) (footnote omitted);
  • Belmont v. Comcast Cable Holdings, LLC, 151 Cal.App.4th 1224 (2007) (“We conclude, as did the court below, that a reasonable consumer would not likely be deceived by the mere use of the passive voice in the statements in the rate cards.”); and
  • Coso Energy Developers v. County of Inyo, 122 Cal.App.4th 1512 (2004) (“A sentence or clause written in the passive voice is not necessarily ambiguous.”).

Happy Pesach!

Yesterday, was the first day of Passover. If you’ve ever danced the Hora to the tune of Hava Nagila, I highly recommend that you see Hava Nagila (the Movie). Connection to California? At the beginning of the film, watch for some briefs scenes of Canter’s Deli on Fairfax in Los Angeles.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Allen Matkins | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Allen Matkins on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.