Yesterday morning I attended a “calendar call” in a domestic relations courtroom in Wake County. This is a scheduled court appearance for every attorney and litigant that has a hearing or trial scheduled in front of that particular judge for the entire week. It is an opportunity for the judge to call each case and determine which people are going to have hearings that week find out which cases settled or need to be postponed.
I want you to think about this for a second. Lets say you needed to see the doctor for an exam and instead of giving you a date and time for your appointment, the doctor’s office asks you to show up at 9:00 am on Monday morning, along with every other patient for that day, so that they can see which patients still need to see the doctor and which ones are all better. Then, after every person has had a chance to let the doctor know if they still need to be seen, and they tell the doctor when they are unavailable on that day, the doctor goes back into their office and sets the schedule for that day. Then they come back out, tell everyone when their appointment is, correct any mistakes and further rework the schedule, and then send everyone on their merry way – with a time to come back later that day.
Such is the life of a litigation attorney in Wake County. At one point, I counted no fewer than 20 attorneys, most of their clients, and a slew of witnesses that had been subpoenaed and were sitting in the gallery in the courtroom. Each of these attorneys essentially wasted 2 hours of their time sitting in the courtroom waiting for the judge to come up with the week’s calendar, just so they could be told when to come back later in the week.
What struck me most was that there were witnesses that had been subpoenaed for Monday morning, expecting to be heard on Monday morning, who were told to come back later in the week for the hearing (one told the judge he couldn’t come back at the designated time and was essentially told “too bad, not my problem”).
There has to be a better system – perhaps keep trial calendars for two weeks at a time, only requiring multi-day trials to come to calendar call. The other two weeks could be used for shorter hearings with times certain. Also, allow uncontested matters and ex-parte hearings to be heard first thing in the morning, scheduled by the attorneys filing a “Notice of Hearing”. Post the judicial calendars online so that hearings can be easily scheduled with minimal assistance from the “Family Court Case Coordinator”.
Or… opt not to participate in this ridiculous system. Resolve your divorce without going to court and subjecting yourself to countless hours of wasted time and legal fees, with little to no control over the process or the outcome. Consider a collaborative divorce – less stress, happier kids, more control over the outcome – an altogether better way to divorce.