For those not regularly involved in litigation, the court’s schedule can seem both mysterious and slow. In some jurisdictions, the process can be as laborious as getting all the parties together for a scheduling meeting where the clerk of court sits down with a notebook and coordinates the date. Thankfully, most courts have moved beyond this system and are a little more sophisticated, but scheduling can still be a confusing process.
Setting the Trial Date
As litigation moves forward, the court will set a trial date. Some courts set this date earlier in the process than other courts. This date will have to do with the judge’s availability, the other cases on the docket, and attorney input on whether the case is moving forward or needs more time.
Depending on the size and complexity of the lawsuit, some cases may only have a few months of discovery while others go through several years of discovery, settlement discussions, and pre-trial motions before they finally make it to trial. In these cases, the court does touch base with the attorneys on both sides to get a sense for when the case needs to schedule, but waits until they are ready to put forth a motion or are close to concluding the pre-trial portion of the case before scheduling actually occurs.
Once it is time to schedule trial, the clerk’s office chooses a date. They will touch base with the attorneys to see how many days they expect the trial to take and then look to see ssssssThis date is designed to be as close to final as possible. An attorney can only get a date changed if they had previously filed for protection (attorneys occasionally like to go on vacation) or have a conflict in a “higher” court. The court will on a case by case basis consider other scheduling requests, but the trial date largely revolves around what fits into the court’s schedule.
Changing the Trial Date
After the date has been set, it is still possible to change the trial date. The court may change it due to unexpected circumstances. Attorneys can also request for extensions or date changes if there are new developments in the case, if they wind up with a conflict, or if it looks like the case may settle or otherwise resolve with a little more time.
Once the trial date has been set, however, a delay is likely not longer than a few months at best. Generally, the court simply moves the trial to the next court session or the next available date. Eventually, the court will get tired of granting extensions and, when they think everyone has had plenty of time to be fully prepared, they will stop and make the case go forward.
If you’re facing a business or real estate lawsuit, reach out to the experienced team of litigators at the Dunn Law Firm. We understand business litigation and contract law and can help you understand your case and position and the steps that your case will go through on the way to resolution. To learn more, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 and set up a free consultation today.