District Court Calendaring Authority

I regularly am asked questions about criminal case calendaring. There are relatively detailed statutory provisions regarding the calendaring of superior court cases. As to district court cases, however, the statutes are much less clear, and the practice around the state appears to vary, with prosecutors generally playing the leading role, but judges, defense lawyers, clerks, and magistrates participating to some extent in some districts.

A particularly recurrent issue is the extent of the court’s control over the calendaring of district court cases. For example, when a defendant’s motion to continue is allowed, can the court set the next court date, or does the authority to determine that date lie with the district attorney? Or, to what extent may a court adopt rules that constrain the district attorney’s exercise of his or her calendaring power?

Fortunately, my colleague Michael Crowell has written a paper entitled Control of the Calendar in Criminal District Court, available here as a free PDF, that sheds light on these issues. It’s less than four pages long, and is well worth a read if you are ever involved in district court cases.

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