Much of the law has to do with nit picky details. Not only do I like following through on them myself, I also like to tell everybody all about them. Maybe that's the reason I keep up with my court case and write this blog because I love them so much.
Submitting the Motion:
Anyway, these are the nit picky details involved in getting the motions you write to court for a hearing. First of all you write the darned motion and then you submit it to court (and by this I mean family court, because civil court has an entirely different procedure).
Lawyers are required to file all their motions by email. You, however, as a self represented party are supposed to submit your motions either by fax or personally. I prefer to submit my motions personally because there is nothing better than getting a date stamped copy of your motion. Then it is undeniable that you did submit the motion.
Remember, it is entirely possible that if the clerks are not feeling good about you or the judge is looking at you cross eyed, they will deep six your motion if they can. A date stamp is irrefutable proof that you filed the motion.
The Short Calendar: Once you have submitted your motion, the clerk will place your motion on the short calendar which comes out a week before your motion is due to be heard. Normally, you get a couple of weeks before your motion is heard.
If you have filed your appearance properly (Form JD-CL-12), you should receive a copy of the short calendar in the mail. You can get an appearance form at any Superior Court Clerk's office, Court Service Center, or on the Judicial Branch website.
The calendar tells you the date and time of the hearing for your motion as well as all the other motions filed by attorneys and self represented parties who filed motions when you did. The date and time when your motion will be heard is listed in the first column of the first page. It will also include the address so you won't get mixed up about which courthouse to go to.
Marking Your Motion "Ready": If you are not interested in following through on your motion and do not want a hearing, then you just ignore the short calendar and don't bother to show up. It will simply not be heard. That actually happens with a lot of motions because lawyers often submit motions just for show for a client who doesn't know that there is a difference between submitting a motion versus getting it heard. Also, folks sometimes just submit motions to get information on the record. However, if you are interested in having you motion heard, you will have to mark it as ready.
To mark a motion as ready, you have to call the opposing attorney and let him or her know that you are intending to mark the motion as ready so they need to be in court at that time. Then you call the marking number (call the clerk's office and ask them to transfer you to the marking line) and provide the following information after the beep:
1. The position of the case on the short calendar--the number that is in parentheses at the top of the entry for your motion on the short calendar;
2. The name and docket number for your case;
3. The number of the motion and the name of the motion;
4. The statement that the motion is to be marked as ready; 5. Your name;
6. The statement that you have informed the opposing counsel of record that the motion is marked as ready.
Being There: After that, all you have to do is be there at the time of the hearing. In order to find out which courtroom you are going to be in, you should check in with the clerk who has that information or the caseflow manager.
You will be allowed around 20 minutes for your matter. If the judge thinks that a fair hearing will require more time, he or she will very likely send you to the case flow manager, to schedule another hearing date that will allow you more time to argue the motion.
There are usually a considerable number of motions that will be heard on any particular day and there is no way of knowing when your motion will come up. This means you pretty much sit there until they call your name. You could be lucky enough to be heard right away, or you could end up waiting all day. You might want to take time during the breaks to see if you can put together a negotiated solution to your problem. If not, have fun sitting around.
Of course, sitting there can be quite educational since you often have the opportunity to listen to other parties bringing up issues very similar to the ones you have. That way you can get a sense of how these motions are handled and how the judge tends to rule. So, it isn't all wasted time necessarily.
I believe that once you have filed a motion, you have around 90 days to get it heard, and then it is considered null and void unless you file a form and reclaim it, at which point you go through the whole short calendar, marking as ready procedure again.
So there you have it! Dull, dry, nit picky, and essential to the legal process.
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