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How Lawyers Can Help Courts Run Effectively

Source: Daily Journal
Date: April 25, 2014
~QilydJournQI VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS www.dailyjournal .com FRIDAY, APRIL 25. 2014 How lawyers can help courts run effectively By Lynn Duryee I nside courts today. it's budget, budget, budget. Judges are asked to do a lot more with a 10( less. Commissioners, court reporters, bai­ liffs. research attorneys and adminis­ trative SUp JXlIt are a fond and distant memory. Veteran judges have added to their busy caseloads nO( only matters once handled by subordinate judicial officers - small claims, mental health hearings, probable cause detennina­ lions - but now are typing their own orders and taking out the trash. What can lawyers do to help? Comply with case management conference orders. Between one-third and one-half of the court's case management confer­ ences could be eliminated if parties complied with court-ordered dead­ lines for seJVing parties, filing answers or defaults, meeting and conferring with opposing counsel on ADR and timely completion of ADR. Approx­ imately 75 minutes of clerical time is required every time a case is reset on the j udge's docket, which costs about $48 and that doesn't include the judge's time. Diligent lawyers can help the court by (1) timely serving parties and fil­ ing appearances or requesting an ex­ tension at least five days before the hearing; (2) giving the court realistic time limits at the first CMC for com­ pletion of ADR to ensure that work. is accomplished before the return date; (3) conferring with opposing counsel early on regarding the selection of the neutral and the scheduling of the mediation or arbitration; (4) complet­ ing the ADR process as ordered and advising the court when the case has settled. If counsel cannot complete the ADR as required in the CMC or­ der, circulate a stipulation to reset the CMC. The stipulation should include a showing of good cause along with the name of the neutral, the date of the mediation, and the proposed new date for the CMC. Bring your order or j udgment to court. A lot of clerical time goes into opening mail, connecting correspon­ dence with the file, fOUling the file to the judge's chambers, filing the order, retrieving the file, processing the or­ der, and returning it to counsel. Lawyers can increase the court's ef­ ficiency by bringing proposed orders or judgments to hearings. Portions of orders can be left blank or interlineat­ ed after the hearing. Some couruoom clerks can file and enter the order on the spot. Remember, the time for advocacy is at the hearing, not in the preparation of the order following it. Immediately advise the court when your motion or trial settles. Yes, your judge is happy for you when you settle your case, but still she feels dispirited when she hears the news after spending the previous night reading your six binders of in limine motions. If your motion or trial will not go forward on the scheduled date, please advise the court as soon as possible so that your judge can use her time on a matter that wi ll. Take advantage or the discovery racilitator. Several years ago, Sonoma County implemented a discovery faci litator program to ease the court's burdened law and m O{ion calendars. The pro­ gram calls for experienced civil litiga­ tors to volunteer several hours of time to help embattled litigants resolve discovel)' disputes outside of court. The program has been so successful that Sonoma j udges have heard only a handful of discovel)' motions in the last severnl years. Other counties have implemented the program but with less impressive results. Check to see if your county has one and give it a try. If it doesn't, how about proposing it? Reserve ex partes ror true (and unavoidable) emergencies. Nothing throws a wrench into a judge's impacted day like a smoking ex pane m O{ion. The urgent, unantic­ ipated papers are presented, the law­ yers on both sides are hot and both­ ered, and now the j udge must keep the jury waiting while he studies the motion and hears argument. Judges want to make sure that victims are protected and disasters averted, but easily 75 percent of all ex partes are not true emergencies. Most matters can be set for regu­ larly noticed hearings. Lawyers can ease the court's budget woes by using ex partes in the rarest of cases and by running their businesses in ways that won't create emergencies for others. Limit attachments. There's a reason why the rules of court limit the number of pages in a brief: Judges can only read so much. But for some lawyers, what can't be said in the 15 pages is instead said in an attachment. Judges are frequently treated to hefty doses of deposition transcripts, expert repons and email chains. The conscientious lawyer will help the courts by editing his writing, sum­ marizing important records, and limit­ ing - or, even better, eliminating - attachments. Make t he most o(your ADR pro­ ,~. Many lawyers complain that medi­ ation has become just another hoop to jump through on the way to trial. They say that the other side wasn't prepared, decision-makers weren't present, me­ diation briefs were nO{ exchanged in time, their adversary was just looking for free discovery, and that the whole day was a waste of time. Perhaps a pre-mediation call with the neutral could avoid some of these problems. as well as an order from the court requiring the presence of deci­ sion-makers. Many understand now that mediation offers an invaluable opportunity to settle the case early and efficiently. The lav.y er who takes the ADR process seriously is helping not only his client, but our burdened courts as well. Lawyers can help California courts during this difficult period by per­ forming tasks on time and by using ADR opponunities wisely. Your judge appreciates your efforts too, as they help her do her best job for your case and the others on her docket. l ynn Duryee is a San Francisco JAMS neutral who joined after serv­ ing on the Marin County Superior Court jor mOn! than 10 years. She presided overaruJ settled thousands oj commen:ial, contract, aruJ negligence cares, along with every other type oj civil case filed. She can be reached at /dwyee@jamsailr.com. Reprinted with permission from the &ily JournoL 0 2014 Daity Journal Corporation. All rights reserved. Reprinted by ReprintPrm; 949·702·5390
By Lynn Duryee Ins ide courts today. it's budget, budget, budget. Judges are asked to do a lot more with a 10( less. Commissioners, court reporters, bailiffs. research attorneys and administrative SUp JXlIt are a fond and distant memory. Veteran judges have added to their busy caseloads nO( only matters once handled by subordinate judicial officers - small claims, mental health hearings, probable cause detenninalions - but now are typing the ir own orders and taking out the trash. What can lawyers do to help? Comply with case management conference orders. Between one-third and one-half of the court's case management conferences could be eliminated if parties complied with court-ordered deadlines for seJVing parties, filing answers or defaults, meeting and conferring with opposing counsel on ADR and timely completion of ADR. Approximate ly 75 minutes of clerical time is required every time a case is reset on the j udge's docket, which costs about $48 and that doesn't include the judge's time. Diligent lawyers can help the court by (1) timely serving parties and fi ling appearances or requesting an extension at least five days before the hearing; (2) giving the court realistic time limits at the first CMC for completion of ADR to ensure that work. is accomplished before the return date; (3) conferring with opposing counsel early on regarding the selection of the neutral and the scheduling of the mediation or arbitration; (4) completing the ADR process as ordered and advising the court when the case has settled. If counsel cannot complete the ADR as required in the CMC order, circulate a stipulation to reset the CMC. The stipulation should include a showing of good cause along with the name of the neutral, the date of the mediation, and the proposed new date for the CMC. Bring your order or j udgment to court. A lot of clerical time goes into opening mail, connecting correspondence with the file, fOUling the file to the judge's chambers, filing the order, retrieving the file, processing the order, and returning it to counsel. Lawyers can increase the court's efficiency by bringing proposed orders or judgments to hearings. Portions of orders can be left blank or interlineated after the hearing. Some couruoom clerks can file and enter the order on the spot. Remember, the time for advocacy is at the hearing, not in the preparation of the order following it. Immediately advise the court when your motion or trial sett les. Yes, your judge is happy for you when you settle your case, but still she feels dispirited when she hears the news after spending the previous night reading your six binders of in limine motions. If your motion or trial will not go forward on the scheduled date, please advise the court as soon as possible so that your judge can use her time on a matter that will. Take advantage or the discovery racilitator. Several years ago, Sonoma County implemented a discovery faci litator program to ease the court's burdened law and mO{ion calendars. The program calls for experienced civil litigators to volunteer several hours of time to help embattled litigants resolve discovel)' disputes outside of court. The program has been so successful that Sonoma j udges have heard only a handful of discovel)' motions in the last severnl years. Other counties have implemented the program but with less impressive results. Check to see if your county has one and give it a try. If it doesn't, how about proposing it? Reserve ex partes ror true (and unavoidable) emergencies. Nothing throws a wrench into a judge's impacted day like a smoking ex pane mO{ion. The urgent, unanticipated papers are presented, the lawyers on both sides are hot and bothered, and now the j udge must keep the jury waiting while he studies the motion and hears argument. Judges want to make sure that victims are protected and disasters averted, but easily 75 percent of all ex partes are not true emergencies. Most matters can be set for regularly noticed hearings. Lawyers can ease the court's budget woes by using ex partes in the rarest of cases and by running their businesses in ways that won't create emergencies for others. Limit attachments. There's a reason why the ru les of court limit the number of pages in a brief: Judges can only read so much. But for some lawyers, what can't be said in the 15 pages is instead said in an attachment. Judges are frequently treated to hefty doses of deposition transcripts, expert repons and email chains. The conscientious lawyer will help the courts by editing his writing, summarizing important records, and limiting - or, even better, eliminating - attachments. Make t he most o(your ADR pro,~. Many lawyers complain that mediation has become just another hoop to jump through on the way to trial. They say that the other side wasn't prepared, decision-makers weren't present, mediation briefs were nO{ exchanged in time, their adversary was just looking for free discovery, and that the whole day was a waste of time. Perhaps a pre-mediation call with the neutral could avoid some of these problems. as well as an order from the court requiring the presence of decision- makers. Many understand now that mediation offers an invaluable opportunity to settle the case early and efficiently. The lav.y er who takes the ADR process seriously is helping not only his client, but our burdened courts as well. Lawyers can help California courts during this difficult period by performing tasks on time and by using ADR opponunities wisely. Your judge appreciates your efforts too, as they help her do her best job for your case and the others on her docket. l ynn Duryee is a San Francisco JAMS neutral who joined after serving on the Marin County Superior Court jor mOn! than 10 years. She presided overaruJ settled thousands oj commen:ial, contract, aruJ negligence cares, along with every other type oj civil case filed. She can be reached at /dwyee@jamsailr.com. Reprinted with permission from the &ily JournoL 0 2014 Daity Journal Corporation. All rights reserved. Reprinted by ReprintPrm; 949·702·5390

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