De Kamp, 070783 CAAGO, AGO 82-1206

Docket Nº:AGO 82-1206
Case Date:July 07, 1983
Court:California
 
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JOHN K. VAN DE KAMP Attorney General
ANTHONY S. DA VIGO Deputy Attorney General
AGO 82-1206
No. 82-1206
California Attorney General Opinion
Office of the Attorney General State of California
July 7, 1983
         THE HONORABLE KENNETH CORY, CONTROLLER OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, has requested an opinion on the following question:          1. Does Code of Civil Procedure section 685.010, providing that interest accrues at the rate of 10 percent per annum on the amount of a judgment remaining unsatisfied, apply to judgments against the State of California?          2. Does Code of Civil Procedure section 685.010 apply to interest on judgments against the State of California entered on or after January 1, 1982, and to interest on and after January 1, 1982, on such judgments entered before January 1, 1982?          CONCLUSIONS          1. Code of Civil Procedure section 685.010, providing that interest accrues at the rate of 10 percent per annum on the amount of a judgment remaining unsatisfied, applies to judgments against the State of California.          2. Code of Civil Procedure section 685.010, applies to interest on judgments against the State of California entered on or after January 1, 1983, and to interest on and after January 1, 1983, on such judgments entered before January 1, 1983.          ANALYSIS          By the Statutes of 1982, chapter 150, section 3, section 685.010 was added to the Code of Civil Procedure[1] as follows:
"(a) Interest accrues at the rate of 10 percent per annum on the amount of a judgment remaining unsatisfied. "(b) The Legislature reserves the right to change the rate of interest provided in subdivision (a) at any time to a rate of not less than 7 percent per annum and not more than 10 percent per annum regardless of the date of entry of the judgment or the date any obligation upon which the judgment is based was incurred. The change in the rate of interest may be made applicable only to the interest that accrues after the operative date of the act that changes the rate."
         Theretofore, the rate of interest on judgments rendered in this state was, under California Constitution, article XV,2 and by virtue of legislative inaction there under, fixed at seven percent. Article XV provides in part:
"The rate of interest upon a judgment rendered in any court of this state shall be set by the Legislature at not more than 10 percent per annum. Such rate may be variable and based upon interest rates charged by federal agencies or economic indicators, or both. "In the absence of the setting of such rate by the Legislature, the rate of interest on any judgment rendered in any court of the state shall be 7 percent per annum. "The provisions of this section shall supersede all provisions of this Constitution and laws enacted there under in conflict therewith."
         The first inquiry is whether section 685.010 applies to judgments against the State of California. The California Supreme Court has recently reviewed the principles of construction which must be followed in determining whether the general terms of a statute are applicable to a public jurisdiction:
"[I]n the absence of express words to the contrary, neither the state nor its subdivisions are included within the general words of a statute. [Citations.] But this rule excludes governmental agencies from the operation of general statutory provisions only if their inclusion would result in an infringement upon sovereign governmental powers. 'Where . . . no impairment of sovereign powers would result, the reason underlying this rule of construction ceases to exist and the Legislature may properly be held to have intended that the statute apply to governmental bodies even though it used general statutory language only.' [Citations.]" (City of Los Angeles v. City of San Fernando (1975) 14 Cal.3d 199, 276-277; accord Regents of University of California v. Superior Court (1976) 17 Cal.3d 533, 536; 65 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 267, 272 (1982).)
         Section 685.010, however, was enacted pursuant to the constitutional authority of article XV, supra. Considering the scope of that article, the court in Harland v. State of California (1979) 99 Cal.App.3d 839, noting that such principle "would seem to have little if any application to the interpretation of a constitutional provision" (id., at 844), said:
"Article XV, section 1 by its terms applies to 'a judgment rendered in any court of this state,' and contains no exceptions for the state or any other class of defendant. The section has repeatedly been interpreted to permit recovery of interest on judgments against the state and its political subdivisions. In Bellflower City School Dist. v. Skaggs (1959) 52 Cal.2d 278, in which a school district appealed from an order allowing interest upon certain condemnation awards made in favor of property owners, the court described the predecessor section to article XV, section 1 as a 'constitutional mandate for the payment of interest on judgments' (id., at p. 281), and held that the statute regarding condemnation proceedings did not purport to declare that a judgment bears interest only after it becomes final, 'nor could it so modify the Constitution.' (Ibid. See also People v. Superior Court (Bank of America) (1956) 145 Cal.App.2d 683, 690-691 (holding that the Department of Public Works was constitutionally required to pay interest upon a judgment in condemnation); City of Los Angeles v. Aitken (1939) 32 Cal.App.2d 524, 527 [disapproved on other grounds, Southern Public Utility Dist v. Silva (1956) 47 Cal.2d 163, 165] (holding that a condemnee was entitled to interest on a condemnation award pending appeal even in the absence of specific statutory provision for interest, on the ground that 'The right to recover interest on a judgment is given by section 22, article XX, of the constitution. . .').) In the one reported case in which the state contended as a general matter that it was not liable for postjudgment interest in the absence of statutory authority,
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