CCLCR 40 - Assignment of Cases

  (b)  Methods.

     (1) Trial Assignments:  The moving party shall serve and file a  Universal Trial Setting Calendar Notice (Docket Notice). A Docket Notice can be found at the following link: http://www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/158/Clerk-of-Superior-Court.  The parties shall appear on the universal trial setting docket. Proof of service of the trial setting notice shall be filed with the Clerk by the moving party prior to the time of trial setting.

         (2)  Application of Rule:  Solely for purpose of this rule, "trial" includes trials, support modifications/adjustments,  settlement conferences, RALJ appeals, summary judgment motions exceeding thirty minutes in length, motions with argument in excess of regular docket time limits and motions to be heard by a judge who does not have a normally scheduled docket.

     (3)  No cause appearing on the assignment docket will be set for trial unless there is a Response filed, there is compliance with this rule and at least one of the parties or their attorney either appears or contacts the Court on or before the commencement of the docket.

     (4) Should any party believe the case is not yet ready for trial, they shall file and serve an objection.

     (5)  If one or more parties (or their attorney) to the case fail to appear for trial setting after being given proper notice of the application by the movant and without advising the Court in writing of non-available trial dates, the trial date shall be assigned.  The trial date set will not be reset absent approval of the Court.  If no attorney or party appears for the trial assignment, the assignment request will be stricken.  An attorney or party may have a trial set without appearance provided they furnish a letter to the file indicating their intention to not personally appear and suggesting time preferences, restrictions, estimated length or other relevant information. 

(6)  The initial request for trial setting shall be accompanied by a list of the names, addresses, and emails of all persons entitled to notice.  All parties have the obligation to inform Superior Court Administration promptly of any errors or changes in this list.

     (7)  Trial Scheduling Orders:  The Court shall file and send to the parties a Trial Scheduling Order for the case after Superior Court Administration assigns a trial/MSC date. The Scheduling Order may be amended for a scheduled trial or MSC date only as follows:

i.) If more than thirty (30) calendar days before the readiness date for the trial, then either a.) the parties file a stipulation to strike or reset the trial date, and send a copy to Court Administration, or b.) the party requesting to strike or continue the trial date must file a motion and affidavit making such request, and noting it on the appropriate docket for hearing as soon as possible before the readiness hearing.  Good cause to strike or continue the trial must be shown.  Attorney fees and costs may be ordered as terms for continuing or striking the trial. If the request is granted, a copy of the Order striking or continuing the trial must be provided to Court Administration within one (1) day.

ii.) If thirty (30) calendar days, or less, before the readiness date for the trial, then the party requesting to strike or continue the trial date must file a motion and affidavit making such request and noting it on the appropriate docket before the readiness date for the trial.  Good cause to strike or continue the trial must be shown.  Stipulated strikes or continuances will not be accepted. Attorney fees and costs may be ordered as terms for continuing or striking the trial. If the request is granted, a copy of the Order striking or continuing the trial must be provided to Court Administration within one (1) day.

iii.) If the request to strike or continue a trial is after the trial readiness hearing, then the requesting party must file a motion and affidavit requesting to strike or reset the trial, and noting it for hearing by the assigned judicial officer before the date for the trial.  Good cause to strike or continue the trial must be shown.  The filing of a Notice of Disqualification shall not be considered good cause.  Stipulated strikes or continuance of the trial will not be accepted. Attorney fees and costs may be ordered as terms for continuing or striking the trial. If the request is granted, a copy of the Order striking or continuing the trial must be provided to Court Administration within one (1) day, as well as call Court Administration as soon as possible to notify them of the cancellation of the trial. 

iv.) If the request is to strike a mandatory settlement conference, then the parties can stipulate in writing to strike a mandatory settlement conference.  If a stipulation occurs, then a copy of the stipulation shall be provided to Court Administration within one (1) day, as well as call Court Administration as soon as possible to advise them of the cancellation. If the parties do not stipulate to canceling the mandatory settlement conference, then at least seven (7) calendar days before the mandatory settlement conference, the request to cancel the mandatory settlement conference must be heard by a judicial officer by motion and affidavit set on the applicable docket. Good cause must be shown to strike the mandatory settlement conference. Attorney fees and costs may be ordered as terms for continuing or striking the mandatory settlement conference.  The Order canceling the mandatory settlement conference must be provided within one (1) day to Court Administration, as well as call Court Administration as soon as possible to notify them of the cancellation.

       (8)  Any requirement of this rule can be waived or modified upon a written motion.

  (g)  Pre-assignment of Cases.

     (1)  By the Court:  The Judges may select those cases deemed appropriate for pre-assignment due to length of trial or complexity of issues.

     (2)  By Motion: The parties, by stipulation, may request that a case be pre-assigned or any party may place a motion for pre-assignment upon the appropriate motion calendar.

     (3)  All Matters to be Heard by Pre-Assigned Judge: After selection of the trial judge in the pre-assigned case, the trial, all motions, conferences and other matters and proceedings, except settlement conferences, should be heard before that Judge, if available.

  (h)  Notice to Court of Calendar and Trial Changes. Causes set for trial, as defined by 40(b)(ii), cannot be cancelled by the parties.  Only the Court can cancel a trial.  When a case is settled, the parties shall prepare, file, and provide a copy to Superior Court Administration of a proposed Order of Cancellation (see https://www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us for the form “Strike Trial Date”)  Only when signed by a judicial officer shall the trial be cancelled

     (1)  If it becomes apparent that the time allocated for a trial will not be adequate to complete the trial, the parties shall promptly notify Court Administration of that fact and of the time necessary to complete the trial.  Additionally, the parties shall set the matter to the trial setting docket to adjust the time needed for trial.

     (2)  The Court may assess actual costs or other sanctions for a violation of this rule.

  (i)  Trial Readiness Review:

     (1)  Criminal: In all criminal cases set for trial, the attorneys and self-represented parties shall appear on the criminal readiness review docket (in accordance with the schedule found at www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us) the week prior to trial, to determine if the case is ready to proceed to trial. Counsel for all parties shall appear and advise the Court of readiness for trial, the expected length of trial and any restrictions as to particular days of the week, and Notice of Disqualification under RCW 4.12.050.  Final instructions, including the specific start date and time of the trial, will be given by the Court at the readiness review. Failure to appear may result in the striking of the assigned trial date and/or other sanctions as deemed appropriate by the Court.

     (2)  Civil:  In all civil cases set for trial, the parties, or their attorney, shall appear on the Universal Readiness Docket the Tuesday prior to the week of trial.  Parties will be given final instructions including the specific start date and time of their trial. Failure to appear as directed may result in the striking of the assigned trial date and/or sanctions as deemed appropriate by the Court.  Parties should also check the Court Calendar (www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us/today) after 5 PM the day prior to trial to determine which Courtroom their trial will be in.  If it is a multi-day trial, parties need to check back each day as courtrooms may change based on availability.  Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, for all cases assigned a specific trial date the parties shall provide the trial judge motions in limine and proposed jury instructions by the close of business on the Thursday the week prior to trial.  Said motions and proposed jury instructions can be emailed to the trial judge provided the opposing party is included in the email.

  (j)  Call Calendar.

     (1)  The causes appearing on a motion docket will be called and the movant, if no one appears in opposition, the Court may grant the relief requested in favor of the moving party.  If no one appears for a motion or petition it shall be stricken.

     (2)  A party, or their attorney, may appear on any Civil or Domestic Relations Motion Docket via an approved remote appearance technology, except a party who has been properly served with an Order to Show Cause or other order requiring their personal appearance. The responding party in that circumstance must appear in person unless otherwise ordered by the Court.

   (k)  Motions for Revision.

      RCW 2.24.050 controls the required timing of filing a motion for revision.  The original motion and reply documents shall be filed with the Superior Court Clerk’s Office, a copy served on the opposing party/ies and a bench copy delivered to Superior Court Administration.  Court Administration shall then assign consideration of the motion to a judicial officer.  Once the decision is made by the judicial officer, then a copy of the decision shall be emailed to the parties and judicial officers, by Court Administration, and the original filed with the Clerk’s Office.

[Effective September 1, 2002; amended September 1, 2005; amended September 1, 2006; amended September 1, 2012; amended January 1, 2013; emergency amendment January 1, 2016; emergency amendment January 1, 2019; amended September 1, 2019; emergency amendment January 1, 2020; amended September 1, 2020; emergency amendment January 1, 2023; amended September 1, 2023.]

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