Suppose you're involved in a complex litigation matter in superior court and the court has mandated electronic filing and service. If the court clerk e mails you a notice that judgment has been entered, does that constitute notice of entry of judgment triggering your time to appeal? After all, Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.104(a) provides that the time to appeal is 60 days after the superior court clerk mails...a file-stamped copy of the judgment." So is email from the court clerk the same as "mail" from the court clerk? Apparently not, according to the First District Court of Appeal in a published opinion issued today: Citizens for Civic Accountability v. Town of Danville (http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A121899.PDF)
The opinion explains that the term "mail" means physical delivery by the U.S. Postal Service—and no authority broadly construes "mail" to mean "email." Moreover, given that any ambiguity should be resolved in favor of preserving the right to appeal, "mail" will be narrowly construed to apply only to postal delivery. So nice try, respondent, but no dice trying to win the easy way this time (i.e., appellant's late notice of appeal).
With more and more courts moving to e-filing and notification, however, it seems clear that one day in the not too distant future e-mail may very well constitute "mail," with snail mail considered a historical curiosity. But for now, in California state court practice, "mail" means a licked stamp and sealed envelope—not digital transmission.