As most attorneys practicing in Travis County know, lawyers can pretty much have a hearing whenever they want during the right docket. Choosing the right time and day is key to making sure you don’t waste your time and your client’s money waiting for your case to be heard. The Travis County Court Administrator offers a glimpse into the dockets so you can choose wisely by providing a Future Settings Report.
The hardest hearing to set is a non-jury setting of an announced time of more than three hours, which requires that it be set on the long docket on Monday of a non-jury week. As most local attorneys know, lawyers on the long docket with matters set at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning actually very rarely start at 9:00 a.m. Some don’t even start on Monday. Or even Tuesday. Local rules dictate that cases set on the long docket (longer than three hours) are on recall for two weeks, pursuant to Local Rule 2.4(a). Your matter will start when the Court Administrator calls to inform you he has a judge available to hear your matter, which could be as late as Thursday the following week.
It’s all about availability, and how heavy the docket is before you set your matter. So it’s best to check the Future Settings Report for the date you’re requesting first to see the odds of your getting reached that day. The shorter the docket (number of cases AND total hours), the better odds of you getting reached at a reasonable time (and day).
For instance, if you have a short non-jury matter (three hours or less), such as a motion for summary judgment or a plea to the jurisdiction, first determine the amount of time for the entire hearing. That includes both parties. If what your opposing counsel suggests for their time allotment sounds too short, add some time when setting the hearing. You’re better off ending your argument early and giving time back to the Judge than getting cut off because you ran out of time. Your client will appreciate it, too.
Then review the Future Settings Report for the dates and times during the non-jury week you’d like the matter heard. Often Thursday afternoon dockets at 2:00 p.m. are the busiest. Choose a docket that is short and sweet, then set the matter on that day and time. I often review the dockets first, then have opposing counsel choose from two or three dates and times on dockets that look light. This way no confusion will result after the matter is set, and you will alleviate the need for a continuance hearing. Plus, the Texas Lawyers Creed suggests you do it anyway.
Planning in advance, checking the Future Settings Report, and setting a matter by agreement saves you time in dealing with post-setting continuances or resets, waiting for your matter to be called for hours or days, and saves your client money. Preparation like this goes a long way, and is worthwhile all around.