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Friday, November 18, 2005

It Is Time for Tentative Rulings in Hawaii's Circuit Courts

(Marin County, California) Located on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in a Frank Lloyd Wright designed building, are the Marin County Superior Courts. In California a "Superior" court is the equivalent to Hawaii’s state "Circuit" court. Both are the courts of general jurisdiction. The Superior Court concentrates its efforts on felony cases and larger cases, as do our Circuit Courts. In civil cases, the Superior Courts issue tentative rulings in which the court usually announces-- the day before the hearing-- how it expects to rule and why.

These early rulings accomplish at least three things:

  1. They save time. If the parties decide to accept the tentative ruling as final, everyone avoids the time and expense of an oral argument;
  2. If one or more of the parties want an oral argument the next day, they can focus in on the court's reasoning and prepare their oral arguments accordingly; and
  3. If neither party challenges the tentative ruling or the judge doesn't change his or her mind at a hearing that one of the parties wanted, then the written tentative becomes the final order
Below are the local rules that implement the use of tentative rulings.

MARIN COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT - CIVIL RULES

1.6 TENTATIVE RULINGS

A. Obtaining Rulings. Tentative rulings may be obtained by calling (415) 473-7545 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the court day preceding the scheduled hearing.

B. Oral Argument. If a party wants to present oral argument or request modification of the tentative ruling, he/she must contact the court at (415) 473-6723 and all opposing counsel or parties by 4:00 p.m. of the court day preceding the scheduled hearing and briefly identify the issues to be argued. Contact with opposing counsel's office shall be deemed adequate notice that argument is being requested (i.e., it is not necessary to speak with counsel directly). Unless both the Court and opposing counsel have been notified of a request to present oral argument, no oral argument will be permitted unless the Court otherwise directs.

C. Sanction Requests. All requests for sanctions not ruled upon are deemed denied. [Adopted effective 5/1/98; amended 1/1/04] 1.7 ORDERS Except in unlawful detainer cases, or when the Court otherwise directs, the prevailing party shall prepare an order consistent with the announced ruling in accordance with CRC 391. Counsel shall meet and confer in good faith to resolve all differences concerning the wording of the order. If after argument, the Court adopts the tentative ruling as the final ruling in a case, counsel may deliver that order to the judge at the end of the hearing without obtaining approval of other counsel. Once an order is signed by the judge and filed, the party preparing the order shall mail filed-stamped copies to all counsel. [Adopted effective 5/1/98]

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