What’s Your Biggest Rant About …
November 13, 2015 § 6 Comments
… How hearings are scheduled in chancery court?
What doesn’t work well, and how would you fix it?
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My biggest rant is the difficulty in getting a case scheduled for a hearing on temporary features on a date when the court can actually get to the case to hear it. It does no good to schedule your case on dates when you are at the bottom of the docket, behind cases set to be heard on the merits. If you have to wait three to four months for a temporary hearing, you might as well just schedule your case for a hearing on the merits. Rule 81 sets forth a procedure to get temporary features cases heard quickly. However, this does not work well in the real world. I think that it would work well for the chancellors to reserve a couple of days per month to hear matters on temporary features, with the hearings being subject to strict time limits. This would allow for the issues of temporary custody, child support, visitation, payment of bills, etc. to be addressed quickly, which would help everyone, and probably push a lot of cases toward a prompt settlement.
I like the way that the First Chancery District schedules hearings. The Chancellors’ schedules are on line. You are able to see if one day is better than another. When you pick your day, you send the Order of Setting to the Court Administrator to place on the docket. The only time that you have to talk to a Chancellor concerning court dates is when you need to schedule an Emergency Hearing or a case with a different twist.
Lawyers who are allowed to make “speaking objections” that go on and on and on and that are actually just ways to interrupt and testify themselves. One recently sanctioned in Rankin and should have been sooner.
I would like to see consistency in all counties. All counties have their own way of scheduling hearings and running the docket. If someone practices in more than one county, it is often difficult to keep up with the rules for setting hearings in a particular county. It is important for the docket to be realistic. Some counties set 20 things on a docket for a day and only get to 4; other counties set 3 or 4 and are able to resolve most or all of them. It would also be nice if all dockets were available online to see what else might be on the docket with you.
Inconsistency among the districts seems to be the consistent theme for complaint among lawyers. The problem, though, is that one size does not fit all. What works here in my two-judge, two-county district would not function as well in, say, the neighboring two-judge, six-county district, or in the neighboring one-judge, three county district. Also, some judges are better managers of their time than others. I would not like to be forced into a system that would actually slow me down and make me less efficient in the name of consistency.
My biggest rant is the GAL system. No one can afford to pay 3 lawyers to resolve family problems. What I would do is have the state fund a system through increased filing fees whereby designated cases were sent to a team of social/workers/therapists/mediators in each county to try to resolve problems holistically – children could be co-parented in such a way to take the financial incentives (child support and tax refunds) out of the mix.