Author: Michael S. Dorsi
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. And California civil procedure has an answer to the need for immediate orders from a court: you can, on one day, file your case, make your first motion, obtain a temporary restraining order, and have the court set a date when the defendant is ordered to show cause why a Temporary Restraining Order should not be granted.
What is the trick to winning such a big, early victory for a client?
First, the relief must fit the facts. That the defendant owes a lot of money is typically not going to be enough for an early court order. A court can order the defendant to pay later. The Opening Day TRO requires something more than just monetary damages.
Second, you, the attorney, should get to know the courtroom. Different counties have different procedures. Marin County assigns cases to a single judge, so that same judge hears your ex parte application, your noticed motions, your case management issues, and your trial. San Francisco assigns several judges to civil trials full-time, while two different courtrooms handle motions (Department 501 for cases dealing with real property and housing, Department 302 for everything else). And while some judges take the bench, others send out a clerk to talk to the parties and report back with the papers. Having experience in the specific courtroom is best, but if you don’t have that, at least show up and watch ex parte applications in the appropriate courtroom.
Third, cross your t’s and dot your i’s. The easiest way for a court to deny an ex parte application is for failure to follow procedure. Sometimes that means delivering a courtesy copy of your papers even before you file them at the clerk’s office. Don’t worry if it seems strange, you will be more successful if you just do what the court wants.