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CalCPA's Amicus brief impacts court decision.

CalCPA's Amicus Curiae Committee decided last year to move forward with filing an amicus brief in the case of DeJohn vs. Wheeler (Case Number A138421). The case related to a CPA, David Wheeler, serving as an independent trustee being held liable for damages to a trust.

CPAs often serve as trustees and independent trustees and the precedent set by this ruling could hinder the willingness of CPAs to agree to serve in the role of an independent trustee in the future. The initial decisions attributed liability to the CPA and the CPA firm serving as the independent trustee despite no illegal actions by the CPA. During the appeal, the committee decided to file an amicus brief, or so-called "friends of the court" brief, to provide input to the court and clarify the duties of a CPA serving in the role of an independent trustee to a decedent's trust.

In late January, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled to reverse the judgment against Wheeler and his accountancy firm, in its entirety. The judgment to reverse was based in large part on CalCPA's amicus brief clarifying what the duties of a CPA serving as a trustee included and what they did not include. Many of the issues raised in CalCPA's brief were not factored into the initial decision and when raised during the appeal helped provide the necessary context for the reversal of the judgement.

The mission of the Amicus Curiae Committee is to participate in litigation based upon a set of established criteria and specific procedures, which gives CalCPAa basis for affecting the outcome of professional issues in the judicial environment. In appropriate circumstances, the committee files amicus briefs in cases where CPAs have been sued. The committee does not seek to be an advocate for the member or his or her firm, but it raises legal issues that may impact the profession so that the court is fully informed when deliberating. The committee is composed of experienced forensic and accounting professionals who review case submissions and, based on certain criteria, determine whether to file an amicus brief. If the decision is made to move forward, the committee selects a law firm to file the brief.

The work of CalCPA and the Amicus Curiae Committee translated into a successful result and ruling that will impact many CPAs providing services in this area. It's work like this, often behind the scenes, that helps provide value to CalCPA members and generates some of the significant benefits members receive from CalCPA.

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Title Annotation:Advocacy in Action
Publication:California CPA
Date:Mar 1, 2016
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