Why Are You In Court?
While it may not look like it, courts want to run efficiently, but smoothly. Once the Judge takes the bench, court is in session.
A purpose of being in court is to leave as soon as possible after resolving as much as possible. So the first question a Judge wants answered is “why are you in court?”
There are four broad answers to this question that you or your lawyer need to answer.
- “I want a continuance”
- “I want to plea guilty”
- “I want to have a trial”
- “I don’t know why I’m in court.”
That is also the preferred order in which cases will be handled. Judges will grant continuances first to get those people out first. Followed by pleas, trial, then people who have no idea why they are in court. Leaving them to last isn’t on purpose, but those are also the people who are typically late to court to begin with.
Your case will be called after attorney continuances are called but before trials and pleas.
For example, if you want time to hire a lawyer or time to clear your license, let the judge know. The judge will allow you time if it is your first court date, however, this becomes less and less likely as your case gets older and older since Judge’s, especially in trial and misdemeanor courts hate to leave cases hanging around on their dockets.
While you can ask for a continuance, do not start to argue the case itself. It is not the time to fo so because the judge is concerned about the other hundred people in the room who have cases that day. You will have an opportunity to speak in a few moments.
When Will My Name Be Called?
The case order is not alphabetical. It is in order of check-in
- Attorneys who have checked in,
- People without lawyers,
Attorney cases are called first for one main reason: We usually know how to move a case along.
We are usually running from courtroom to courtroom or courthouse to courthouse and can (usually) know whether a case will be a quick continuance or a trial and act accordingly. This isn’t because lawyers are something special, it’s because we need less time to understand what is happening in a case.
After the Continuances are Handed Out:
Where do we go from here?
Once all the quick cases are completed, the real work begins.
The Judge may get off the bench in order to let the parties figure out what they are going to do. Many times we are working out the details of a plea agreement or trying to figure out if witnesses will appear for trial. On the other hand, other Judge’s may remain on the bench while the agreements are being ironed out.
The Judge will run through the court call again to get updates on what is happening with all the cases on his or her court docket.
Plea Agreements and Trials
Typically, I will make sure that an agreement is ironed out with the prosecutor based on what my client’s goals are. Then I will go over the offer with my client and answer any questions while the court call is still running in the courtroom.
The “spec sheets” are then drafted. These outline the plea and any conditions placed on the Defendant. This is discussed in more detail in another post.
After the documents are drafted, the plea will go forward with the Judge admonishing the Defendant as to their rights being given up. There may be several pleas in a row.
The last item on the agenda are the trials and hearings.
Once those are completed, everybody will roll into the 10:30 AM court call to do it all over again.