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What Does the Trial Scheduling Judge Do?

 

A: Your case is on for trial. Your attorney tells you that he has to go into court for a trial conference. Who actually sits in the trial scheduling part?

The answer is that it is a judge of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Often that judge will supervise the assignment of cases to different judges in the courthouse. The judge sitting in the scheduling part is often very good at interacting with attorneys, both plaintiff’s lawyers and defense lawyers.

He will ask whether both sides are ready for trial. If not, he wants to know why not. Depending upon how many times the case has already come up for trial and how long it has been sitting on the trial calendar, the judge has a few options.

He can agree to postpone the case, also known as adjourning the case, to another day. He can force both sides to go pick a jury now.
He can dismiss the plaintiff’s case if your attorney is unwilling to proceed, claiming that he has some conflict and cannot go forward on that day.

He has an agenda. He wants and needs to move cases. He needs to resolve (settle cases). He needs to push cases to trial. He has to answer to the administrative judge. He has to be able to show that he’s getting cases out of the scheduling/ trial part.

He is the gate-keeper. If cases are not moving here then it will bottleneck. Then the administrative judge will come down and demand to know why cases are not moving.

Having said that, the judge is also aware of daily conflicts with attorneys. Lawyers handle more than one case at a time. Trial schedules are erratic. Lawyers go on vacation too. Witnesses and experts may not always be available when a case comes up for trial. Cases might be settled with some extra time to evaluate them by the parties and the insurance company.

A compassionate judge takes all those factors into account when deciding whether to push the attorneys to trial or give them a little more time to arrive at a firm trial date.