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Complex Litigation Department Guidelines

       
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Department 9 of the Court has been designated as a Complex Civil Litigation Department under the Judicial Council’s Complex Civil Litigation Pilot Program.

You will find a good introduction and basic explanation of complex case management in
the Deskbook on the Management of Civil Litigation

Attorneys should also be familiar with California Rules of Court (CRC) 3.400 et seq


CONTACTING THE COURT:

DEPARTMENT 9 (925) 957- 5709
  JUDGE: JUDY CRADDICK
  COURTROOM CLERK: CHANDRA FORFANG
  COURT REPORTER: DEIRDRE HERNANDEZ
  BAILIFF: JOHN ECKER
  RESEARCH ATTORNEY:

SHANNON STONE
KATHERINE SHER

  DEPARTMENT FAX (925) 957-5905
  E-MAIL FOR ORDERS ONLY * cxlit@contracosta.courts.ca.gov
  * please carefully review the standing order as to e-filing before using this e-mail; it is not used for general correspondence. Any e-mail should show a copy to all other parties in the case.



SELECTION OF CASES:

Cases can be designated as “complex” in a number of ways, including by:

  1. Checking the appropriate box on the Civil Case Cover Sheet (see CRC 3.401);
  2. Referral from the clerk’s office if they meet the criteria listed in CRC 3.400, or have a large number of parties that are likely to have separate attorneys;
  3. Referral from a civil fast track judge;
  4. Request of one of the parties; or
  5. Following the counter-designation procedures of CRC 3.402.

Cases referred to this program receive a “NOTICE OF ASSIGNMENT TO DEPARTMENT 9 FOR CASE MANAGEMENT DETERMINATION” order and are scheduled for a complex litigation designation and case management conference approximately 8 weeks after the initial filing date. This means they will get a hearing much sooner than they would otherwise if they were being heard in a civil fast track department.

Because complex litigation cases are managed differently from other Unlimited Jurisdiction matters, Counsel should carefully review the provisions of that order and meet and confer before the designation conference to discuss whether they agree with the designation. They should also have a meaningful discussion as to the legal and factual issues, and likely discovery and motion matters.


COURT APPEARANCES:

Counsel are free to make their court appearances for case management conferences through CourtCall.

Other matters (such as orders to show cause) require a personal appearance unless the court specifically approves a telephone appearance. If counsel wish to use CourtCall for appearances other than case management conferences they must contact the department clerk and secure permission to do so. On law and motion matters in which the parties wish to have a reporter present, the court cannot guarantee an accurate record unless counsel appear in person. Thus, counsel should not attempt to argue by telephone except in emergencies. However CourtCall may be used simply to listen to an argument.

This Court expects civility among counsel at all times. Parties, opposing counsel, and witnesses are to be formally referred to, not by first names unless young children, and punctuality is expected. While court is in session counsel should not approach the clerk or reporter.


E-FILING:

Cases determined to be in the program will generally be ordered to use e-filing and e-service. Copies of the standing order of the Court as to e-filing, as well as the form order normally used for assignment to e-filing, are available for review on this website. Those new to e-filing should review the link “E-filing frequently asked questions.”  Please note that the Court has waived compliance with CRC § 3.1113(i) and that copies of non-California authorities should not be filed or lodged.


INFORMAL AND EX PARTE APPLICATIONS:

This Court urges the prompt and informal resolution of disputes, including discovery matters, whenever possible. The Court encourages the parties to conduct telephone conference calls when feasible. Counsel desiring to set up such conferences should obtain a series of available times and dates from all other counsel and send a fax to the courtroom clerk, listing those available times and dates,

Ex parte applications requests for injunction and requests for Temporary Restraining Orders are heard daily in Department 9 at 10:00 a.m. in the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse.  If it is believed in good faith that the matter is one more appropriate for the assigned judge, a time for the appearance should be scheduled with the courtroom clerk in the complex litigation department early enough to give the necessary notice to opposing parties (C.R.C. 3.1203). Courtesy copies of these ex parte applications should be delivered in advance whenever possible.

Stipulated orders may be submitted to the Court using the department e-mail. See A Handy Guide to Department 9


WEEKLY SCHEDULE:

The normal weekly schedule for Department 9 is as follows:

Trials are generally held five days a week from 10:00 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. although the Court will discuss scheduling with the parties at the issue conference. For jury trials the Court starts jury selection the first day of trial so as to not impose more than necessary upon the potential jurors waiting in the jury assembly room.

Other schedule:

  • Monday mornings the Court has a trial calendar.
  • Case management conferences in existing cases are held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 9:00 a.m.
  • Law and Motion is heard Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.
  • Discovery Motion is heard Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
  • Tentative rulings are available on the court website after 1:30 p.m. on Monday (or Friday if Monday is a holiday.)
  • Issue conferences and settlement conferences are held as scheduled by the Court in consultation with counsel.


DISCOVERY:

Counsel should be aware of the provisions of C.R.C. 2.550 and 2.551. Stipulations should not be presented to the Court seeking sealing of filed papers other than for discovery matters; such matters should proceed by noticed motion.

In most cases the Court will set a date for disclosure of experts substantially earlier in the litigation that the minimum provided by C.C.P. § 2034.


TRIALS:

The Court generally schedules the pretrial issue conference approximately four weeks before trial. The conference is governed by Local Rule 5, except that in most cases the Court will issue a detailed order, well before the conference, supplementing and modifying the rule to fit the particular case. [A sample of such an order is available for review on this website.] Usually that order will indicate that no settlement conference will be held as a part of the issue conference and attendance by clients with authority to settle is not required.

As a general rule motions in limine will be discussed at the conference on a tentative basis. If there is a meaningful disagreement between the parties’ positions, the Court will generally order further briefing and schedule further oral argument

The Court will set deadlines and hold conferences to resolve all necessary procedural matters, such as rules for voir dire, creation of exhibit lists, accurate identification of and a timetable for witnesses, and jury instructions.

The complex litigation courtroom has a state of the art evidence presentation system. The Court urges counsel to provide a technician to operate these systems; experience shows that presentation of evidence takes much longer when counsel attempts both to examine witnesses and operate the system at the same time. The Court will schedule a pretrial session to allow the technicians to familiarize themselves with equipment.

Voir dire examination is done by using a “6 pack” so that 18 jurors have been passed for cause when the peremptory challenges begin. The Court will engage in an extensive examination and thereafter allow the attorneys to ask follow up questions.

 


 

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