Pros and Cons of Appearing By Court Call

Michele Trausch
March 13, 2014

When can you appear by telephone via court call and is it a good idea?

Effective January 1st, the Rules of Court were amended. Rule 3.670 makes it clear that the Legislature has adopted a policy favoring telephonic appearances and encourages all courts to uniformly permit them.

The Rule is applicable to all civil cases, unlawful detainers, and probate hearings. There are exceptions where a personal appearance is required, including trials, TROs, settlement conferences, and trial management conferences.

Ex parte hearings are also allowed as long as the moving papers are filed two courts days before the hearing.

See the amended version of the Rule for more details.

Is court call a good idea?

The cost savings to the client is probably the best reason to use court call. It saves the client money by avoiding unnecessary travel to and from a court, particularly courts out of the Bay Area. Additionally, many judges prefer to deal with their matters by telephone as it can be more efficient, particularly on routine appearances such as case management conferences.

But there are occasions, besides those listed in the Rule, when standing up in front of the judge is better for the client. For example, with a single assignment or case designated as complex, you will initially want the judge to get to know you and your case. On important motions such as summary judgments, it may be better to be physically there rather than a disembodied voice on the telephone. Watching the judge’s expressions, body language, and demeanor can help you fashion your arguments.