By David Nied, Chair of BASF’s Litigation Section and partner of Ad Astra Law Group, LLP. (Formerly Pacific American Law Group) | Published: sfbar.org
As most of you know, the San Francisco Superior Court has weathered some extraordinary hardships in the past few years because of the impact of the great recession on the state’s economy and the concomitant reductions in court funding. Despite the recent and on-going economic recovery, which has improved California’s budget outlook significantly, funding for the trial courts remains constricted. Moreover, in late April the Judicial Council approved a new trial court funding methodology that will further deplete San Francisco Superior Court’s funding by another $7.8 million over the next five years.
Although most of us predicted that the budget problems would result in long delays in getting to trial, the latest word from the court is quite to the contrary: cases are going out fairly regularly at the initial trial call. The court will sometimes trail a case for up to five court days until a courtroom becomes available, but the net result is that very few cases are being re-set for trial at a later date. The trial courts are keeping very busy. Mandatory Settlement Conferences (MSC) are on track as well. Parties and counsel need to respect, and be prepared for MSC’s. The attorney volunteers or judges who are involved will have invested time in the file and will be prepared for the MSC, so counsel and parties should, too.
So, the advice from the court is to be ready to try your case when it’s called. Don’t assume that you will get kicked over and have additional time to prepare later–not that any of you would do that. The judge to whom you are assigned will expect that you have fully complied with Local Rule 6 and that the pre-trial will run efficiently. And, remember–the time that is saved by being prepared makes it more likely that a courtroom will be available the next time you try a case.