Temporary Setbacks, Part II

December 31, 2013 § 1 Comment

Yesterday we visited the subject of temporary hearings in cases where ID is the sole ground. The practice across the state is, well, varied.

What about the manner in which temporaries are conducted?

In this district, we schedule all temporary hearings on a R81 return day. Many are negotiated to a settlement. The ones that do no settle are taken up for hearing in order from oldest filed to most recently filed. Each side is allowed one hour, total, for the presentation of all witnesses and other evidence. One hour is by consensus among bench and bar an adequate time to develop the pertinent proof. We had a chancellor once who limited proof to ten minutes per side, which produced a lot of groaning among the lawyers. I set an expiration date of six months on my orders in hope of promoting movement toward finality.

In other districts, I experienced a broad range of ways to approach temporary matters. In some districts, a temporary hearing can consume an entire day. I often wondered in those cases what the difference was between that ordeal and the final hearing. I also wondered where the chancellor found the time.

In many districts, the proof is limited:

  • One chancellor, now retired, would call the parties and attorneys to the bench, where all stood in reverent silence while the judge examined the parties’ 8.05’s. He seldom had any questions. He would simply say something like, “Okay, the wife will have custody and the husband will pay $250 a month child support. Next case.”
  • Another judge called the parties to the bench and based his temporary order on a colloquy with the clients with limited input from the attorneys.
  • In one district the judge allowed only the parties to take the stand. He would interrupt and ask his own questions until he was satisfied that he had a clear picture, then would say he had heard enough, and would direct one of the attorneys to draft an order.

Your experiences, I am sure, will vary. I would welcome your comments about how temporary hearings are handled in your area.

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