For more detail on calendaring, check out our video:
“Calendaring in State Court: Steps and Traps for the Unwary”
Calendaring in California State Court
© 2016 by Julie A. Goren, Esq.
Calendaring-related errors are the leading cause of malpractice lawsuits, particularly in California, where deadlines come from several sources, including the Code of Civil Procedure, the California Rules of Court, and local rules. Typically, several codes and rules must be applied to calculate a single deadline. A misstep at any point will cause an error. Here are just a few common mistakes:
- Relying on an outdated rule or statute
- Counting from the wrong event
- Forgetting to add extra time based on service method
- Adding the wrong amount of time for the particular service method
- Counting calendar days instead of court days
- Missing a California holiday
- Counting in the wrong direction
I cannot stress enough the importance of using a rules-based computerized calendaring program to calculate your deadlines. I don’t mean manually calculating the deadline and entering it on a computerized calendar, or using an electronic calendar to help you calculate the date that is 30 days before or after a given date. I mean rules-based computerized calendaring where you simply enter an “event” in a particular jurisdiction, and the program automatically calculates the triggered deadlines in accordance with the applicable codes and rules.
But even with rules-based computerized calendaring, you need to know how to calendar manually. At the very least you’ll have to input correct information into the computer program. Will you even know that there’s something to calendar, i.e., that a triggering event has occurred? Do you understand sufficiently the concept of “service” so that you will accurately enter the service date? You might need to calendar something when your computer is down or you have no internet connection. You’ll then have to know the entire process. But even when your rules-based computerized calendaring program is fully operational, you need to be able to double-check its results. After all, humans entered the information upon which the programs rely, leaving room for error, and, some of the available products are more reliable than others.
Litigation By The Numbers® (“LBTN”), the essential California civil litigation handbook, includes tremendous focus on calendaring. For many of the procedures occurring in the various phases of a California superior court civil lawsuit (e.g., serving a complaint, serving or responding to discovery, setting and noticing motion hearing dates, opposing motions, reaching settlement) LBTN warns the reader that something needs to be calendared and identifies many (but not all) of the triggered deadlines and the current code or rule dictating the length of that deadline. But most importantly, LBTN includes an entire chapter entitled “Filing, Service, and Calendaring” with ten full pages devoted to step-by-step calendaring.