Legal Question in Business Law in California

How to reschedule mandatory settlement conference

What do I need to file with a court to request that a mandatory settlement conference be postponed/continued/rescheduled/taken off calendar? I called the court clerk and they said I need to submit something on a pleading form (they couldn't tell me exactly what to submit).

The settlement conference is in two days. Any advice, even if it's a ''clever'' way, is appreciated! I've already spoken to the opposing side and they dont seem to want to reschedule.


Asked on 5/15/08, 2:17 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Re: How to reschedule mandatory settlement conference

Call Courtcall and ask them if you can appear by telephone.

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Answered on 5/15/08, 3:42 am


Re: How to reschedule mandatory settlement conference

It's probably too late. The correct procedure in most courts would be to file what is called an ex parte application. It's essentially an emergency motion asking for something on shortened notice. There are a variety of strict rules (both procedural and substantive) that apply to ex parte applications; and if the MSC is in less than two days, you are likely out of time.

What's the harm in attending an MSC? There's no obligation to settle the case. You can go, listen to the other side and the settlement officer, and then if you don't want to settle, you leave when it's over.

I suspect the other side does not want to continue the MSC because there's probably no legitimate reason. Moreover, the other side likely wants to have a trial date set, if one is not already set.

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Answered on 5/15/08, 10:23 am
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: How to reschedule mandatory settlement conference

It would really help to know the reason why you need to postpone the MSC, also whether you are the defendant or plaintiff. Both would bear on the likelihood of getting relief from the court, and perhaps on the method by which to beg for a continuance. Are you trapped under earthquake rubble in China, or have you just learned that the bass are biting up at the lake?

Seriously, I guess it wouldn't hurt to try contacting CourtCall and asking if they can set up a telephonic appearance for you if that solves your problem, but it's a real long shot for two reasons: first, CourtCall and the courts often require more advance notice, often five days; second, settlement conferences are by nature less likely to be successful if the parties do not appear in person, and hence most courts simply would not allow a CourtCall appearance.

If you can't do CourtCall either because of the nature of your need to postpone or the court's policy, I would suggest (a) reading the Rules of Court 3.1200 to 3.1207 and the Local Rules regarding ex parte applications and following them if time permits; (b) finding an attorney who would make a "special appearance" for you at the MSC to explain your non-appearance and ask for lenience in dealing with your non-appearance; or (c) at least contact the judge's clerk, or the pro-tem who would be doing the MSC, to explain the situation.

Note that there is a range of results from good to bad in this order: 1. (Best) you show up at the MSC as scheduled; 2. You get an official continuance by ex-parte application; 3. you appear by CourtCall; 4. You send an appearance attorney to explain your absence. 5. You don't appear but you have let the court know the reason in advance, and it's a good reason; 6. you fail to appear without letting anyone know.

Anything from 3 through 6 is increasingly likely to result in sanctions. The sanctions could range from a small fine to, if you are the plaintiff, dismissal. I may have 4 and 5 in the wrong order.

All in all, the quality of your reason for not appearing as scheduled will probably determine the outcome.

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Answered on 5/15/08, 11:58 am

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