Scheduling law and motion hearings during COVID-19

Call ahead to schedule hearing date

Moving parties must call to reserve court dates for law and motion hearings in Sacramento for now. This change is due to the court’s pandemic shut-down.

You should also email the department at Dept __@ to request and reserve a hearing date.

In the Sacramento civil division, Departments 53 and 54 handle most motions. Department 47 hears motions related to transferring, dividing, or combining cases. Details are available on the court’s website.

Normally, parties who need to schedule a motion choose the date that works for them, and include it in the motion papers. When the clerks receive the paperwork, they add the motion to that day’s calendar. If the date is not available, the clerk calls the moving party to reschedule.

Right now, however, the court is only hearing motions on certain days. The clerks have a harder time managing the calendars. As a result, you must call the department clerk to request a hearing date.

[A]ll new motions or any other matter requiring a hearing date may not be filed until after the moving party has reserved a hearing date with the applicable department, including the Law & Motion Departments, and has indicated the reserved date/time/department for the hearing in the notice and accompanying moving papers. …  The prior rule permitting parties to self-set hearings for new motions in the Law & Motion Departments will be suspended until further notice.

Answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” Re” Court Operations during COVID-19 Pandemic (Current as of April 24, 2020)

Your hearing date will be far in the future, so plan accordingly and request a hearing date as soon as you know you need one.

Reserve date, then write the motion

You do not need to have the paperwork ready to reserve a court date. You can call to reserve court dates ahead of time. Just make sure to file the papers in court at least sixteen court days in advance. (You must also still serve the other party or parties sixteen court days ahead, plus five calendar days if you serve by mail.)

You can file and/or serve the papers earlier than that if you have them ready, but no later.

The judges urge parties to try to work out solutions prior to filing a motion, to help ease the court’s backlog. If you resolve your problem, you must call the department as soon as possible to cancel the hearing. If you cancel after the judge spends time on your motion, they will scold you in their ruling. The same judge will hear most other motions in the case, so try to stay on their good side.

For more information about writing motions, see our Step by Step Guide to Motions in Civil Cases or any of our many guides on particular types of motions. Just ignore the parts about how to choose a date, and call the department to make a reservation.