Soka University of America Is a School On a Hill

The Aliso Viejo college was founded by a Buddhist sect that preaches peace—so why are so many former professors alleging the opposite?

The Jewish Kirshner was very concerned. He e-mailed Feasel claiming anti-Semitism and religious intolerance and demanded something be done about the student.

To Kirshner's surprise, "The dean basically said to me, it's almost summer, the student will be leaving, so it'd be better if I kept my mouth shut." Feasel then told him he was moving the issue to be handled by the department of human resources. The head of the department, Katherine King, responded with an e-mail arranging a meeting about the incident. The letter said this was the first time they had heard of the offending student, a claim, Kirshner says, that was just more stonewalling.

"It was clear that the administration was not going to take this seriously," he says. "They were turning a blind eye to racism, anti-Semitism and various forms of religious intolerance. I'm not saying [the student's actions were] malicious, but nothing was being done about it."

John Gilhooley

Location Info

Map

Soka University of America

1 University Drive
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Category: Schools

Region: Aliso Viejo

Details

Kirshner asked if he could bring a witness to the meeting—either another faculty member or a lawyer—or a tape recorder; administrators denied his request. He began to suspect a cover-up was taking place, and a series of e-mails later, Kirshner told administrators that he was going to take the issue up with the Board of Trustees.

A few days later, he was locked out of his office. A security guard handed him a letter saying he was no longer welcome on the Soka campus and that he had 48 hours to receive psychological counseling. "Everything was in my office, all of my work—I was on the verge of signing a contract for my new book," Kirshner says. "That got destroyed. I was in the process of putting together a conference paper. That got destroyed."

In defiance, he decided to sit outside his office door and go on a hunger strike. When Kirshner refused to see a counselor hand-selected by the university, he was put on administrative leave without pay, meaning he was technically still employed and therefore could not seek unemployment, yet he would collect no income. Later that summer, he received a two-page letter that listed numerous accusations from "colleagues," ranging from threatening the president of the university to vowing harm on staff if he didn't receive tenure to even seeking out drugs.

"My guess is that the administration got very upset that I had said I was going to go to the Board of Trustees, so they then looked for, fished around for any kind of behavior, incident or anything they can construe as bad behavior," Kirshner says.

Soka kept Kirshner on administrative leave from May until October, when he received an e-mail from administrators saying he could either resign or face a disciplinary committee to respond to the bill of particulars. Instead, on Nov. 8, 2010, he sent an e-mail to King, Habuki, Feasel and others promising "VERY serious TROUBLE (and then some)" and warning them to "please remember to lock your doors. You never know when a wild animal might try to paw its way through." Attached was a photo of a graveyard of skulls. He also left King a similarly threatening voice-mail message. All four administrators filed a restraining order against Kirshner; he is to stay 100 yards from their houses and any portion of the Soka University campus until 2013.

"It was definitely over the top," Kirchner admits about his threats. "I was definitely in a space of being hotheaded. Four to five months with no income created quite a lot of angst in me. But it was all tongue-in-cheek. There was no intention, none at all."

Kirshner, who was named Professor of the Year twice in a row, calls Soka "the jewel in the crown of SGI," used to reel in hundreds of millions of dollars from donors. As for his own case, he says, "It was all about isolating, cornering and destroying anyone who might raise a substantive issue that might tarnish the image of the university or SGI. When they saw that I was serious about my claims of anti-Semitism and religious intolerance, they thought the only way they were going to silence me was by doing something like this. There was no flexibility, zero. There was no dialogue for a school that's known for 'dialogue.'"

Asked about Kirshner, Feasal says he "cannot comment on personnel matters."

*     *     *

According to documents filed in Orange County Superior Court, Christoffersen entered into a five-year employment contract with Soka University in 2005 with the promise of speeded-up tenure. She applied for tenure in June 2007 and received the further recommendation of the university's Rank and Tenure Committee in February 2008. The committee noted her many accomplishments, including being a "recognized scholar in her fields of expertise" and "publishing regularly over many years in top-quality peer-refereed journals," as well as pointing out that her scholarship is "of a quality usually associated with an established scholar at a major research university."

Then came the e-mails.

Christoffersen says top administrators sent her weekly invites insisting that she attend an Ikeda reading. A month before a decision was to be made about her tenure, the chairwoman of the committee urged her to attend a Soka Gakkai women's meeting. With the future of her career on the line, she drove to the event, but at the last minute, she decided against going in. The chairwoman later told Christoffersen, according to court files, that she was "disappointed with her lack of participation in Soka Gakkai." Another member of the tenure committee, Anthony Mazeroll, told Christoffersen, "Everyone who works here is a member of Soka Gakkai—every administrative person, every IT person, everybody." The assistant dean, Phat Vu, declared in front of several faculty members his intention to "purify" Soka University of all non-Soka Gakkai so that eventually only Soka Gakkai faculty would teach there, according to the complaint.

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My Voice Nation Help
478 comments
Roo
Roo

I bet half of you who commented haven't even read the literature to which this article refers. City Upon A Hill actually has much in common with the sentiments you faithful students exude. Why dont you try reading it.

figure it out
figure it out

All these aggressive sua student comments come off arrogant and are supporting the following argument: "It's sort of ironic that they are a group for peace, but essentially, they declare war on anyone who raises a question."

Instead of asking themselves the truth, they immediately went searching for an argument that could compete with the article's stance. Do you really know the truth? Or are you just content to feel that you are part of something you don't really understand?

Stephanie
Stephanie

it is really sad and obvious that these students immediately tried to think of every way they could argue against this article. It is as if every single student rushed to their laptops to write a comment declaring their allegiance with the school. I really doubt that they even considered the possibility that they could be wrong. You have to realize, when you are practicing with this religious group, you are reading books much like the bible which state in abstract forms that you must not give up your adherence to the laws of "kosen rufu," which stands for world peace. Of course there are good intentions but if you are practicing day by day, reading these excerpts every morning, you become a bit carried away from reality. All of a sudden it's as if you are not you unless you are praising this founder called Daisaku Ikeda. You are not you unless you are chanting every morning and evening. The purpose of the practice is to make you feel that you can not live without it. So obviously they are going to defend this school with all their heart.

Stephanie
Stephanie

it is really sad and obvious that these students immediately tried to think of every way they could argue against this article. It is as if every single student rushed to their laptops to write a comment declaring their allegiance with the school. I really doubt that they even considered the possibility that they could be wrong. You have to realize, when you are practicing with this religious group, you are reading books much like the bible which state in abstract forms that you must not give up your adherence to the laws of "kosen rufu," which stands for world peace. Of course there are good intentions but if you are practicing day by day, reading these excerpts every morning, you become a bit carried away from reality. All of a sudden it's as if you are not you unless you are praising this founder called Daisaku Ikeda. You are not you unless you are chanting every morning and evening. The purpose of the practice is to make you feel that you can not live without it. So obviously they are going to defend this school with all their heart.

Dave
Dave

Pretty worthless article when you consider the "dean" mentioned (Ex- Dean of Faculty) was terminated from that position in 2003 for making inappropriate comments about religion (like the ones quoted here) and the courts deemed the arguments of this disgruntled, non-notable professor to be unconvincing. If Gaye had talent, she would land on her feet at another school instead of going for a payday against her former employer on inept charges. The ex-prof proved to be a toxic hire and I would never want to hire that kind of faculty member. Sometimes bad profs are just bad profs. Soka needs to be creative to hire faculty and isnt going to get tier one talent--some just don't work out. If it weren't for the PhDs involved this could easily be a fake-discrimination suit at a Taco Bell.

Andrea Cross Isrow
Andrea Cross Isrow

There are people who "take it too far" in every religion, unfortunately. With the best of intentions many SGI members will shakabuku continuously. Personally, I've been a member of SGI for 6 years, and have had no adverse experiences, but yes, there are a few members who are just a tad too zealous, but like I said -- you get that everywhere. Similarly you will have people who get "shakabukued" two or three times and whoooaaaa, it's a "cult"!!!! How about a firm: "No, thank you. I'm _____ (athiest, Christian, etc)"? People can be ridiculous on BOTH sides of this coin. And, as an aside, look up "cult" in the dictionary sometime. It's so vague and ambiguous it can be applied to every, and I mean EVERY religion or organization.

Illarraza
Illarraza

The Law [Dharma] is free TJ, not the Law taught by SGI but the Law taught by the Buddhas throughout past present aqnd future. Copy and paste to your hearts content!

Illarraza
Illarraza

I imagine you are very proud that SGI has won a lawsuit since their track record for winning Lawsuits, at least in Japan, is so absolutely horrible.

176 lawsuits filed between the temple and Soka Gakkai from 1991 to 2005:

The temple filed 41 Soka Gakkai filed 135 The temple won 116 Soka Gakkai won 22 38 cases reconciled [Re. Temple - Soka Gakkai trials index]

Lets do some simple math and analysis:

176 lawsuits filed minus 38 that were reconciled = 138 contested lawsuits. The temple won 116. This means that SGI, with all their "sincere" Daimoku and 50x more revenue and assets and 50x the lawyer fees of the Nichiren Shoshu, won only 16% of the lawsuits [SIXTEEN PERCENT folks] and with all the cards stacked in their favor. What we have here is: Actual proof of the ABSOLUTE POWERLESSNESS of the SGI faith and practice; and/or the incompetance of the very best and expensive lawyers money could buy; and/or SGI is cheap and hired terrible lawyers; and/or SGI hired SGI member lawyers who are terrible lawyers; and/or SGI's terrible member lawyers worked on the case for free. The bottom line is the result of LOSS not GAIN, the most important doctrine of the SOKA "Beauty, Goodness, and Gain" philosophy.

I am not a temple member but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Arika
Arika

I don't know, but I want to hear from the people, not thru the paper, which may be prejudiced against the school. I would like to interview all parties involved, not just believe this article because it seems fair. I know the SGI isn't perfect, but Sensei is enlightened, and I've trusted him implicitly for 28 years. He's never been wrong since I've listened to him; he wasn't always enlightened, but he has been my whole practice. If any of these incidents happened the way you believe they did, I would be pretty surprised, but not totally. There are buddhists who go to far. And btw, the NS priesthood IS incredibly corrupt! You cannot use them as proof of any gakkai misdeed! The high priest claims one can only gain enlightenment through him!! That's absolute bullshit, completely wrong, against Buddhism and Nichiren Daishonin!Arika

TJ
TJ

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

It describes its mission as the fostering of a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life—with an emphasis on principles of pacifism, human rights, and the creative coexistence of nature and humanity.[2]

Between 2005-2007 SUA graduated its first three undergraduate classes with an average graduation rate of 90%. More than a third of the students in each of the first three graduating classes have gone on to graduate school. Forty percent of the 2006 graduating class entered graduate school (compared to 20% at Claremont McKenna in the same year). Cumulatively, 38% of SUA graduates have gone on to graduate programs, according to the 2008 Peterson's Guide to Four Year Colleges (p. 2228). Students have been admitted into graduate programs at Cambridge University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Teachers College, Duke University, Harvard University, Hawaii Law, Indiana University, London School of Economics, New York University, Oxford University, Stanford University, St. Johns, University of California, Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA, University of Liverpool, University of Maryland School of Law, University of Pittsburgh, University of Southern California, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Vanderbilt University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, and others.[16]

In September 2010, Newsweek rated Soka University in the top 25 of small US colleges in four categories, including the "most desirable small colleges."(http://education.newsweek.com/...

Justice
Justice

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Infinitepla
Infinitepla

Gaye lost in her court filing. You can Google for court's ruling.

Infinitepla
Infinitepla

To moderator, why don't you allow me to post the court's ruling about SUA? Where is your justice?

TJ
TJ

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)

........

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

TJ
TJ

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)

........

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

TJ
TJ

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)

........

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

TJ
TJ

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)

........

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

TJ
TJ

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

TJ
TJ

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

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CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

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CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

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CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

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CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

Infinitepla
Infinitepla

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

Infinitepla
Infinitepla

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

observer
observer

Does anyone else find it amusing that so many supposedly former sgi members are commenting here (or youtube, or any other thread with sgi related topics), even though they claim that they want nothing else to do with the sgi because it's a cult?

And they all say the same thing... "I'm a former sgi-member, they treated me like shit, they are a cult, now i'm free, and i love commenting on sgi topic threads"

If I really didn't like something I don't think I'd waste my time like that... just sayin. It takes some effort to find these things.

theremonstratiion
theremonstratiion

For those not familair with the way that that SGI has done things over the years please understand that it has already shot itself in the foot and will bleed itself to death. On the surface it is one thing and behind closed doors it is another. It is not a case of persecution of Buddhism it is a twisting of Nichiren Buddhism that is the real issue here---and that Buddhiusmn in the American Nichiren Buddhists need not conform to their new teachings which uses Buddhiskm as a front for politics and money gathering. It is a disgrace to twist real Buddhism as they are doing, Se the videos on the youtube channel: thermonstration

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Guest
Guest

It is puzzling to non-cult members how a cult's credibility can be established by an outpouring of hatred, demonization, and implied threats of violence. Yet, it is very common for Soka Gakkai to mobilize members to engage in demonization and character assassination of someone perceived to be a Soka Gakkai critic. Among cults this probably makes sense. Soka Gakkai demonized Nichiren shoshu even though they had much doctrine in common such as belief in “hakkō ichiu”. Nichiren shoshu has demonized Soka Gakkai. This may explain the previous question "are you a Temple member?"Soka Gakkai demonized Aum Shinrikyo, although they shared many characteristics. Aum Shinrikyo was the group that released sarin in the Tokyo subway in 1995. According to the Japan Times, Aum Shirikyo had many Soka Gakkai members in it, and its self-defense team had been trained by Soka Gakkai's security forces. ("Soka Gakkai's French Connection," Japan Times, November 4, 1995). Aum Shinrikyo had tried to assassinate Daisaku Ikeda. One person in this OC Weekly comments section has mentioned Soka Gakkai's "Thugs Division" which must be the security forces. Another person stated that Soka Gakkai doesn't need the yakuza because it has its own troops. I wonder if these people are licensed to be thugs in the US.As an American non-cult member, this kind of demonization seems out of place here in Orange County. The comments section [numbering 360+ to date] demonstrates that Soka Gakkai can mobilize members in a no-holds-barred frenzy which is hard to understand for anyone who is not a member of Aum Shinrikyo, Soka Gakkai, or Nichiren shoshu. This outpouring of maliciousness has said much more about Soka Gakkai than any critic could have.

January Joy
January Joy

I apologize in advance if I am repeating anything that has already been mentioned. However as an SUA student, (currently studying abroad) I feel it is very important for the student voice to be heard as often as possible in response to the claims and quotes issued in this article. I am a junior at SUA and like many students I have had qualms with administration and I know that being apart of a new school can present difficulties. However, not once have these difficulties had to do with religious affiliation. I think it is very important to look at SUA and it's connection with the SGI in a rational manner. Certainly there are many SGI students (and I would presume faculty) at SUA. I note my presumption here because in the faculty student relationships I have with my professors I nor they have ever had the need to share our religious affiliations (this excludes professor Orin Kirshner, who frequently discussed his ties to the Jewish faith). This of course is my experience and I can not speak for all other students and faculty. Now, as far as the specifics of this article I would like to point out that Woo writes, " In March 2008, Soka denied Christoffersen tenure "due to low student evaluations, which showed a deficiency in teaching ability." Other professors with fewer achievements were granted tenure, she claims." This is written as a negative thing, when in fact it highlights the importance of student evaluations. Having been a student of Christoffersens in 2008, I would like to share that although the texts we read outside of class were well written and informative, I personally thought that her inverted personality and personal in class tangents made it incredibly difficult to learn anything outside the readings for class. I recognize that Gaye is an incredibly intelligent and well studied individual but I am personally happy that her low student evaluations were taken seriously into consideration and she was not granted tenure. This said it disheartens me that an academic of Christoffersen rank would blame her lack of tenure on "religious discrimination" when a definite reason was already put forward: her students didn't particularly gain much from her courses. Her religious affiliation (as I was unaware of it) had nothing to do with my feelings towards her class or I'm certain the other 10 or so students who sat in my class. In closing I ask Ms. Woo, to please better research your next article as you have surely failed in writing this one.

Hideko 秀子 Piplani
Hideko 秀子 Piplani

As a member of the thinking public, it is not necessary to be affiliated to the SGI to recognize the unmistakable prejudice that runs deep in this article. Although an attempt has been made at giving it a more responsible appearance by quoting a few supporters of SUA , the tone of the reporting itself is biased against SUA. You follow up a historical ‘fact’ (which is as only as true as historical details go) on the separation of the SGI from the priesthood with a comment on how, “The organization (SGI) emphatically rejects all accusations.”It is clear from this dead end statement that interviews of SUA supporters, students or staff were quoted only to serve as examples of this ‘emphatic rejection of accusations’. It naturally follows that statements of the former SUA professors were sought to be presented in a way that was predetermined to paint a negative image of the university. I also wish to inquire into the cause of suspicion that arose from the Buddhist practice of students at SUA. The article maintains that it was because students diligently read his works and chanted the Lotus sutra in the lounge areas. The latter can understandably be a cause of discontentment due to its overtly religious expression, there is an equal possibility of it being a not unusual slight of common sense. Whereas about the issue of seeking out their “mentor’s” works, I believe that to hold this against members of any religious group or followers of a spiritual/religious figure is a breach of common decency. The article seems to suggest that were the students not inclined towards reading Ikeda’s works as much as they did, it would help a great deal to resolve the issue. It’s pretty incredulous to imagine such an imposition on free thought.On more than one occasion the article has been guilty of misreporting or deliberate sidetracking of information related to SUA and its founder. The article makes Dr.Daisaku Ikeda out to be a ‘business tycoon’ whose interaction with the western media was nearly nonexistent. This portrays him as an isolated Japanese character. I am greatly surprised at how the article preferred this abstract notion over Dr.Ikeda’s world acclaimed scholarly achievements. Dr. Ikeda is the recipient of 300 doctorate degrees from universities around the world none of which are affiliated to the SGI. The most recent doctorate was awarded to him by the University of Massachusetts in November 2010, an event that found mention in CNBC. He has held discussions with respected thinkers and activists like Toynbee, Pauling, wangari mathai to name just a few. As recent as 2009 he published a dialogue on the philosophies of Whitman, Thoreau and Emerson with Ronald A. Bosco and Joel Myerson, distinguished professors from the New York State University and South Carolina University respectively. As a member of the thinking public, it is my urgent wish to impress upon the reporting agency how important it is to sieve through subverted opinions based on little or no research in order to facilitate rational free thought.

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As a student from the Class of 2012, currently studying abroad in Osaka, Japan, I was shocked to read this article, particularly because of all the inaccurate information. However, I felt more than reassured to see the responses from students, professors,and alumni alike- all making efforts towards setting the record straight.

For me, that in itself speaks volumes about SUA. But what makes me even happier is knowing that this article has led to more of exactly what it is dubious of- dialogue. Regardless of how cliched it might sound, I'm glad to see that SUA seems to be using this article as a springboard for further growth, into the next 10, 20, 100 years and beyond. That's value-creation (which is what the "Soka" of Soka education means) in practice for me: using a seemingly negative situation as an impetus for positive growth.

For me personally, this article has made me realize all the more keenly, that as a student of Soka University of America, I am representing my university at all times. So I'm going to continue to do my best, right here right now. Now and always.

Please continue to watch us grow not only as individuals, but also as a university!

Thank you!

Nandini Choudhury Class of 2012

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Phat Vu
Phat Vu

Thanks to the editor for publishing the first half of my letter to the editor. It was a long one, and the excerpt published is the one I would have chosen as well. Cheers.

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Edward David Lowe
Edward David Lowe

I have been thinking about this article and the subsequent discussion on the comments for the past week and I am finally moved to comment too. The article does a nice job pointing out that Soka has rather unique roots as a newcomer in the American liberal arts scene. As the article states, it is rare to start a new college in the US and rarer still for the funding to establish such a school to come from a non-Western source, in this case a Japan Buddhist organization. I didn't know much if anything about SGI, or Japan for that matter, when I left a productive research gig at UCLA to join the Soka faculty in 2005, the same year as Gaye. But, I was intrigued by its mission. Here was a well-funded school dedicated not to the stale old West-West tradition typical of American Liberal Arts college, but a college dedicated to an active engagement and dialogue between philosophical traditions of East, Southeast and South Asia and the various Western traditions. I was also intrigued by an educational mission where the student mattered as more than as a body-count for course enrollments. At Soka, the scale would allow a much more engaged relationship between faculty members and the students, this would allow the sort of mentorship that is generally only available through doctoral study at other institutions. Soka might be the place where I could stretch my intellectual chops, so to speak, and get out of the same old intellectual retread of the Western cannon and its discontents that seemed so stifling in the American intellectual debates I had been exposed to since my undergraduate study.

Soka has definitely allowed me to develop professional interest and experience in comparing Eastern and Western perspectives and I have had wonderful mentoring relationships with many SUA students. But, unlike Gaye, I never was invited to an SGI event off campus and I rarely read any of Ikeda's speeches over the past few years, though it is good to have some connection to many of the student's interests, so I have read one or two. I was invited by the Ikeda speech discussion club on campus a few times, but I don't take students up on that sort of thing and I tell them so directly, but respectfully. I prefer to keep the lines clear between my academic work and the spiritual work of those students who belong to this religion. I probably don't get nominated much for the very prestigious "professor of the year" award as a result :D -- or perhaps its because I am an -- ahem -- *difficult* grader :D. But the university did grant me tenure the same year Gaye was denied -- hmm imagine that -- after actively turning down invitations to read Ikeda! If your interested in my academic credentials ... I am on the interwebs! (PS -- To be honest, I did get Professor of the Year one year -- thanks again SUA students! -- you rock!)

Edward David Lowe
Edward David Lowe

I have been thinking about this article and the subsequent discussion on the comments for the past week and I am finally moved to comment too. The article does a nice job pointing out that Soka has rather unique roots as a newcomer in the American liberal arts scene. As the article states, it is rare to start a new college in the US and rarer still for the funding to establish such a school to come from a non-Western source, in this case a Japan Buddhist organization. I didn't know much if anything about SGI, or Japan for that matter, when I left a productive research gig at UCLA to join the Soka faculty in 2005, the same year as Gaye. But, I was intrigued by its mission. Here was a well-funded school dedicated not to the stale old West-West tradition typical of American Liberal Arts college, but a college dedicated to an active engagement and dialogue between philosophical traditions of East, Southeast and South Asia and the various Western traditions. I was also intrigued by an educational mission where the student mattered as more than as a body-count for course enrollments. At Soka, the scale would allow a much more engaged relationship between faculty members and the students, this would allow the sort of mentorship that is generally only available through doctoral study at other institutions. Soka might be the place where I could stretch my intellectual chops, so to speak, and get out of the same old intellectual retread of the Western cannon and its discontents that seemed so stifling in the American intellectual debates I had been exposed to since my undergraduate study.

Soka has definitely allowed me to develop professional interest and experience in comparing Eastern and Western perspectives and I have had wonderful mentoring relationships with many SUA students. But, unlike Gaye, I never was invited to an SGI event off campus and I rarely read any of Ikeda's speeches over the past few years, though it is good to have some connection to many of the student's interests, so I have read one or two. I was invited by the Ikeda speech discussion club on campus a few times, but I don't take students up on that sort of thing and I tell them so directly, but respectfully. I prefer to keep the lines clear between my academic work and the spiritual work of those students who belong to this religion. I probably don't get nominated much for the very prestigious "professor of the year" award as a result :D -- or perhaps its because I am an -- ahem -- *difficult* grader :D. But the university did grant me tenure the same year Gaye was denied -- hmm imagine that -- after actively turning down invitations to read Ikeda! If your interested in my academic credentials ... I am on the interwebs! (PS -- To be honest, I did get Professor of the Year one year -- thanks again SUA students! -- you rock!)

Edward David Lowe
Edward David Lowe

My next thought concerns the assertion that Soka is filled with professors pissed off for being discriminated against if they are not SGI. The article reports the facts associated with rapid turnover and general chaos at SUA in the 2000-2004 period. But when Gaye and I arrived in fall 2005, the problem was essentially fixed (SUA replaced the second of two troublesome administrators who had been in charge in the first four years). After that time, there was almost no faculty turnover -- And we have gone on to hire and retain some excellent faculty since -- This might also be the result of instituting a traditional tenure system after 2005 and some other administrative improvements since. Gaye and I were among the first to apply for formal tenure at the university. When she alleges that the Uni granted tenure to individuals with fewer accomplishments in teaching and research, I assume she was referring to me. Well, as I said above, I am on the interwebs -- I report, you decide -- if I have accomplished anything professionally! So, Gaye left when her contract was up in 2010. As for Orin, well the material in the article speaks for itself. And, the threats received that the article mentions are just the tip of the iceberg. These were given independently of his claim of antisemitism associated with his having used is position of power and authority to invite a student to bring her Nazi doll to his class. We urged Orin to seek professional treatment well before his having been locked out of his office, I hope he has.

Edward David Lowe
Edward David Lowe

I have been thinking about this article and the subsequent discussion on the comments for the past week and I am finally moved to comment too. The article does a nice job pointing out that Soka has rather unique roots as a newcomer in the American liberal arts scene. As the article states, it is rare to start a new college in the US and rarer still for the funding to establish such a school to come from a non-Western source, in this case a Japan Buddhist organization. I didn't know much if anything about SGI, or Japan for that matter, when I left a productive research gig at UCLA to join the Soka faculty in 2005, the same year as Gaye. But, I was intrigued by its mission. Here was a well-funded school dedicated not to the stale old West-West tradition typical of American Liberal Arts college, but a college dedicated to an active engagement and dialogue between philosophical traditions of East, Southeast and South Asia and the various Western traditions. I was also intrigued by an educational mission where the student mattered as more than as a body-count for course enrollments. At Soka, the scale would allow a much more engaged relationship between faculty members and the students, this would allow the sort of mentorship that is generally only available through doctoral study at other institutions. Soka might be the place where I could stretch my intellectual chops, so to speak, and get out of the same old intellectual retread of the Western cannon and its discontents that seemed so stifling in the American intellectual debates I had been exposed to since my undergraduate study.

In the six years that I have taught at Soka I have had a wonderful professional experience exploring just this East-West axis and employ readings from a broad spectrum of cultural and intellectual traditions in my classes. As an example, think about my readings for my CORE 200 students just these past few weeks weeks, we compared the Catholicism of Descartes to the Zen Buddhist perspective of the noted Japanese Zen scholar Masao Abe. Then moved on to a comparison of the theory of morality and social justice found in the writings of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant to the activist speeches of Aung San Su Kyi, Gandhi, and M.L. King. Not for everyone no doubt. But, I thought it was pretty cool myself. And, think of it, I came up with these sources all on my own ... no intervention or check in by the higher-ups (more on that later).

Soka has definitely allowed me to develop professional interest and experience in comparing Eastern and Western perspectives and I have had wonderful mentoring relationships with many SUA students. But, unlike Gaye, I never was invited to an SGI event off campus and I rarely read any of Ikeda's speeches over the past few years, though it is good to have some connection to many of the student's interests, so I have read one or two. I was invited by the Ikeda speech discussion club on campus a few times, but I don't take students up on that sort of thing and I tell them so directly, but respectfully. I prefer to keep the lines clear between my academic work and the spiritual work of those students who belong to this religion. I probably don't get nominated much for the very prestigious "professor of the year" award as a result :D -- or perhaps its because I am an -- ahem -- *difficult* grader :D. But the university did grant me tenure the same year Gaye was denied -- hmm imagine that -- after actively turning down invitations to read Ikeda! If your interested in my academic credentials ... I am on the interwebs! (PS -- To be honest, I did get Professor of the Year one year -- thanks again SUA students! -- you rock!) ---More to follow ....

DanD
DanD

I'll read the article when I've got the time. Skimming it a bit, I'd probably just leave off commenting as I personally know a few young people (graduates) who are quite amazing in their world outlook, so yes I'd be probably be biased against it and adding a little more wood to the fire (in my opinion) the fear-tactics the article seems to engender and just detracts attention from the accomplishments & efforts of their academic career. The proof is in the product -- in how these young people will contribute to the future and their accomplishments and that's the real story. best, Dan (Soka Gakkai member)

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Anonymous
Anonymous

Buddhist PRINCIPLES not PRINCIPALS!!! Aurea mediocritas regnat in OC.

Murphy McMahon
Murphy McMahon

My feeling while a student there was that I was living in a Potemkin village. It looked like a university, there were classrooms, professors, and young people, but there was something amiss.

Behind its 'non-sectarian,' 'liberal arts' façade there was a teeming faith-based culture with the insularity of a religious boarding school which greatly diminished the school's intellectual vitality.

In light of real problems and shortcomings, the endless drone of lofty rhetoric seemed not only divorced from reality, but a deliberate distraction, and indeed very cult-like in its homogeneity and frequency.

If SUA had just called itself 'Daisaku Ikeda University,' there wouldn't be articles like this, nor people like me attending. Maybe going forward the school would be wise to emphasize not just its founding principles, but their particular origin and context?

 
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