Counsel in civil actions generally have the option of appearing by telephone in any hearing or conference at which witnesses aren’t expected to be required to testify. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670. Local rules may also provide procedures for an appearance by telephone.
So, how do you set it up to phone in your appearance? First, look to what the court has published on how to appear by telephone. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(q). You should also refer to local court rules to determine how to pay the required fee set out in Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(k).
Next, you need to give notice to the court and other parties of your intention to appear by telephone.
- If filing papers: Include a line entitled “Telephone Appearance” below the title of the papers in the caption of the moving or opposing papers. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(h) (1)(A). See CCP §367.5.
- If not filing papers: Notify the court and all other parties of your intent to appear by telephone at least 2 days before the appearance. If notification is oral, give it either in person or by telephone. If notification is in writing, give it by filing a “Notice of Intent to Appear by Telephone” with the court at least 2 court days before the hearing and by serving the notice at the same time on all other parties by means reasonably calculated to ensure next-day delivery. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(h)(1)(B).
Giving notice that you will appear by telephone doesn’t lock you into it—a party who has given notice that he or she will appear by telephone and then decides to appear in person may do so. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(h)(5).
Keep in mind that you can’t always decide to phone it in: There are proceedings in which personal appearance is required under Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(e), and the court may exercise its discretion to require a party to personally appear if it finds that it would materially assist in determining the proceedings or effectively managing or resolving the case. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(f)(2). If, after you’ve requested a telephone appearance, the court decides that a personal appearance is necessary, the court will have to give reasonable notice to all parties before the hearing and may continue the hearing if necessary to accommodate the personal appearance. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(i).
Courts that use a telephonic tentative ruling system for law and motion matters may use the tentative ruling to require the parties’ personal appearances if the notice is given one court day before the hearing. Cal Rules of Ct 3.670(i).
For more on telephone appearances for noticed motions, turn to CEB’s California Civil Procedure Before Trial, chap 12. Also check out CEB’s California Basic Practice Handbook, chap 5 on law and motion practice.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- Let Me Be Heard! Tips for Arguing at a Hearing
- Tentative Rulings: Contest or Concede?
- Going Ex Parte in 8 Steps
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