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Posted By Sharon L. Hightower, Sunday, February 11, 2018

For those of you that were unable to attend our last two meetings, I thought I would provide some highlights;          


     *     Reminder that e-filing is required for Superior court filings as of February 13, 2018.   Paper filing will no longer be allowed.    Documents must be filed so that they are received prior to 11:59 p.m. on the due date,  but allow time for the process.  


     *     The local rules state that any stipulation for a court reporter at a hearing must be actually signed by all parties and submitted for approval by the court five days prior to the hearing.    However, each judge has the discretion to allow a shorter period of time provided that the stipulation can be approved prior to the hearing.   Check with the court clerk regarding the procedure of the case manager in your case ahead of time.   Note that there is a new stipulation form on the court website.


     *     On Monday, March 12, there will be a training for Temporary Judges on the Odessey system.   Attendance and the use of the system are encouraged as it will soon be available in all the courtrooms.    As an aside, the court is always in need for more Temporary Judges.   The ADR Administrator is putting together a list of volunteers to assist service members who are overseas on a limited basis.


     *     Hope to see you on March 5, 2018.

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Patience is a virtue...

Posted By Amy R. Carlson, Wednesday, February 8, 2017


"Patience is a virtue. Virtue is a grace.  Grace is a little girl who never washed her face."


My mother-in-law used to sing this to my kids.  It came to mind at the last Civil Practice Committee meeting. 


We all need to be patient in Santa Clara County Superior Court right now. 


As some of you may have experienced, the court is short-staffed.  The California government cut funding a few years back and—as frugal as the court was—it finally started affecting Santa Clara County Superior Court.  The clerk’s hours were cut to 3pm.  Clerks who left were not replaced.  The court did its best to weather the downturn but there was only so much to be done. 


In order to ease the strain on the staff, it is imperative that when you appear before the judges—who also experience the short-staffing—you make your appearance worthwhile.  If you haven’t done your Rule 4 ESC or your mediation, do an ADR stipulation to continue your ADR Review Hearing until after your ESC or mediation.  Otherwise, your hearing will be a waste of time.  The judges suggest you do an ADR stipulation by ex parte and it should get signed quickly.


The court also requests patience with regard to e-filing.  It’s been implemented for family and probate.  When the court finds glitches in the family and probate courts, they’re fixing them so they are not incorporated into civil. 


Another item of interest is that when the civil case managers were reduced from five to four, the Tuesday afternoon calendars were already set.  If you have a 3pm case management conference in Department 7 on a Tuesday (through March 6), you need to appear. You will be given information on where your case has been reassigned.  The 3:00 calendar will remain empty for another four weeks or so until the Tuesday afternoon calendars are realigned to 1:30, 2:15, 3:00, and 3:45. 


Lastly, attorneys practicing in Santa Clara County Superior have become a bit lax in following the California Rules of Court—particularly when preparing default judgments.  C.C.P. section 585 packages are submitted to the trial judges for review. Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 3.1800 provides a checklist of documents to be submitted with default packages.  These judgement packages are based strictly on declarations and other admissible evidence (CRC, Rule 3.1800).  Judge Folan currently handles the default prove-up hearings when the trial judge believes live testimony will be necessary.  Fraud cases and cases involving punitive damages or emotional distress usually involve default prove-up hearings with live testimony.  For both prove-up hearings and the submission of 585 packages, strict compliance with CRC 3.1800 is required.  Additionally, attorneys should follow the attorney fee schedule in the local rules.  If an attorney wants to stray from the schedule, he or she must provide a detailed declaration as set forth in the attorney-fee schedule.  (See Local Rule 14).


The moral of the story is be patient while the e-filing is implemented; the short-staffing continues; and follow the Rules of Court.  The more aware you are of the constraints of the court—and the more patience you have with them—the more expeditious everyone will be.


We will all be thankful for a little bit of patience and cooperation.

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Judicial Arbitrator to Rule 4 Neutral

Posted By Amy R. Carlson, Thursday, March 5, 2015

Last month, I wrote about being a Rule 4 Early Settlement Neutral.  Rule 4 neutrals are apparently a rare breed.  We need more of them and so I'm writing about them again.   

I found out this week that being a judicial arbitrator is not the same as being a Rule 4 neutral.  It turns out that if you are listed as a judicial arbitrator, you'll have to fill out a short form to become a Rule 4 neutral---the two do not overlap. 

Because there is no overlap, the Superior Court is short on Rule 4 neutrals and long on judicial arbitrators.  If you're seeing this message, you're already one step closer to helping out your legal community and making a few dollars at the same time.  Go to and fill out the form.   

The Court could also use your help in recruiting Temporary Judges.  Temporary Judges can serve as Judicial Officers at the Superior Court.  (Any of you with aspirations of becoming a judge should pay attention) 

Qualified and experienced attorneys may volunteer their time to serve as part of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara's Temporary Judge Program.  They are appointed and serve at the discretion of the Court. 

I have not yet applied for this prestigious opportunity as I am on the Judiciary Committee, but it looks rewarding and quite interesting.  They even provide training (which I have heard may get you some MCLE credits).   

As I said before, any of these opportunities are a great way to meet new people and reunite with old friends (or enemies---whatever).  Giving back to a Court that has given you a home away from home in your career is the best way to show your passion for the law and your compassion for the people of Santa Clara County. 

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please jot me a note in the comment section below. 


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Rule 4 Early Settlement Neutrals

Posted By Amy R. Carlson, Thursday, February 5, 2015

Calling All Attorneys!!


If you practice in Santa Clara County and have appeared in the Superior Court, you may have been in need of a Rule 4 neutral.


Rule 4 Neutrals are provided by the court free of charge to the parties.  I handled at least 10 early settlement conferences in 2014 and I have no doubt there could be more cases out there that could benefit from a Rule 4 neutral.  


Rule 4 is similar to mediation in the sense that the parties are there to resolve the case. The best benefit for most cases is that the Early Settlement Conference is generally early.  The defense stops incurring the costs of litigation. The plaintiffs get resolution and on with their lives.  It's usually a benefit for both sides.


For the neutral, there's an unknown benefit---getting to know attorneys in the community or simply seeing old friends.


The reason I love being a neutral is seeing old friends from my insurance defense days.  Although I solely practice employment law, I am appointed to automobile cases nearly 99% of the time.  My career started at Farmers Insurance with Rick Pedersens' office and I love seeing attorneys from that office, the adjusters, the plaintiff's counsel I used to butt heads with.  It's all very nostalgic.  In addition, I get $150 for my time, which comes in handy for the little things my kids want like dance classes or sushi.


If you would like to try your hand at being an early settlement conference neutral the application is easy and is available here:


If you have any difficulty finding the form, you can go to the court's website and in the search box type in "Rule 4 neutral" and it should take you to a list which includes the information you seek.


It's a great help to the court and it's a great way to network.  In the event you want to become a mediator in the future, it's also great practice.


By the way, I liken mediations and early settlement conferences to being a grandparent:  You get to play with the case, and then they go home at the end of the day.  


Tags:  mediation  neutrals  Rule 4  Superior Court 

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