Tag Archives: court procedure

More Court Tech: Skype Hearings

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At CourtReference, we’re always alert for advances in court technology. We don’t just mean finding court records; CourtReference has provided links to online court record resources, other court-related resources, and court websites for many years. We’re talking about interaction with the court by actual parties to the case.

Gone are the days when every interaction with the court took place in person. Payment of court fines online was one of the first methods of conducting court business electronically, and now it’s the most common; we covered it here, here, and here.

Once it became so easy … Read More

Conciliation: A New Form of Dispute Resolution

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When people have a disagreement that can’t be resolved by simply discussing the problem, they may end up going to court for a resolution  – especially if the disagreement involves something as important as family issues or large sums of money. Going to court can be very expensive if you hire a lawyer, and it still costs some money (e.g., filing fees) if you don’t hire a lawyer. It’s very time consuming either way, especially if you don’t hire a lawyer.

And it’s not quick; courts are busy, many court systems are underfunded and overburdened, and it can be months … Read More

Mental Illness Commitments

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Our 2008 blog post about mental illness cases introduced two aspects of that topic. Last month we covered Mental Health Courts – specialized court programs which can set up treatment in lieu of incarceration for some criminal offenders with mental health problems. For those offenders, their mental illness may have been a contributing factor in their commission of a crime, but is not severe enough to warrant commitment to a mental institution.

In order to be committed, a mentally-ill person must be dangerous to himself or herself or to others, or be unable to care for himself or herself. Criteria … Read More

Court Appearances by Television

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This blog has been following the expansion of the use of technology in the justice system. See our posts about electronic filing (2010), court appearances by telephone (2011), and fighting tickets online (2012).

Video technology is also being embraced by the courts. One well-established use of video is the recording of depositions. A deposition is the sworn oral testimony of a party or witness that takes place prior to trial. Depositions are a form of evidence, and they are normally taken in court reporters’ or lawyers’ offices. Video is simply used to record the testimony, and replaces … Read More

An Eviction by Any Other Name…

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We last discussed eviction procedures in our post about Landlord Tenant Laws back in April, 2008. Now for a brief update:

As noted in the original post, most eviction cases are heard by courts of general jurisdiction, such as Superior Courts or District Courts. Of course specific courts’ jurisdiction varies from state to state, depending on the structure of each state’s judicial system. In a few states, evictions may be handled by local courts of limited jurisdiction.

As if finding which court handles evictions in a given state weren’t difficult enough, the process of kicking out a tenant isn’t even … Read More

Court Rules

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Every court has specific rules that must be followed by all parties. Lawyers who regularly practice in a given court are very familiar with the rules of that court. They often know the rules so well that they don’t have to look them up. But you have to look them up. Even if  you are representing yourself in court – known as appearing pro se (Latin for “for oneself”) – you will be expected to follow those rules. That means you’ll first have to find them. Fortunately, most court rules can be found online.

State court systems have statewide rules … Read More

Subpoenas: Compelling Your Appearance

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We all know that you have to show up in court if you are a party to a case being tried – i.e, if you are the defendant in a criminal case, or the plaintiff or defendant in a civil lawsuit. But if you are just a witness, do you also have to show up in court?

The answer is yes, if the judge or one of the attorneys thinks your testimony is important. The court will issue a subpoena, which is a document commanding your appearance in court to testify as a witness. In some cases, the … Read More

What is a Surrogate?

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All state court systems have procedures for handling wills and other estate matters, including estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships, and trusts. When someone dies with a will, the will must be proved to be valid, and the instructions in the will carried out. This process is called probate, so most courts that handle estate matters have come to be called “probate” courts.

Some court systems have separate probate courts; examples can be found in Connecticut,  Georgia, and Texas.  More often, a state’s main trial court will have a probate division; examples can be found in California Superior CourtRead More

Help From Government Attorneys

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Depending on location, the government officer responsible for prosecuting criminals may be known as the District Attorney, Prosecutor, or County Attorney. Regardless of title, this officer may sound like someone the average citizen would prefer to avoid. Doesn’t the D.A. just prosecute criminals?

In many states, District and County Attorneys also help citizens enforce their rights. Kentucky County Attorneys are a good example.

Have you ever been stuck with a bad check? If so, how do you try to collect? Hire a lawyer? File a criminal complaint and wait for the check-writer’s trial to find out if you’ll see any … Read More

Phoning In Your Court Appearance

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Telephonic appearances by attorneys have been common in certain types of court hearings for years. They have gone mostly unnoticed by the general public, because they have only been used for hearings on motions and other matters that don’t require the presentation of evidence or sworn testimony. These hearing are routine court procedures, not the dramatic trials you see on television.

Allowing some of these routine hearings to be done over the phone saves time for both court staff and attorneys, and thus saves money for clients. Attorneys for both sides may phone in their appearances, or one attorney may … Read More