Hurry Up and Slow Down: New Local Rule at Los Angeles Superior Court Formalizes Time Constraints for Peremptory Challenges to Trial Judges

Fortin Law Group

Published: October 8, 2018

Personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles Superior Court have twenty to sixty minutes (depending on the judge) after being assigned a judge for trial purposes to challenge the judge’s assignment under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6.1 This brief window appears harsh, especially considering that parties have fifteen days to challenge a judge assigned for all purposes, but it is actually an improvement.

Department One of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, known as a “personal injury hub,” operates as a Master Calendar Court, assigning judges for trial purposes on the day of trial. All other pretrial procedures are handled by different judges. This allows for more efficient case handling because all judges are used to the maximum time each day and judges with expertise in specific issues can be assigned. Code of Civil Procedure Section 170.6 allows master calendar courts to set time requirements for parties to object to a trial judge’s assignment for bias. Prior to 2013, parties were required to object to a judge’s assignment for trial purposes at the time of the assignment. This allowed for little, if any, research into the decision to challenge the assignment. Since 2013, however, Department One has allowed parties twenty minutes to file a peremptory challenge. Parties no longer have to decide immediately whether to challenge the judge’s assignment.

This procedure has now been formalized in the Court’s local rules effective August 1, 2018. The Court announced: If a personal injury case is assigned for trial to a judge that is on a list of judges available to hear personal injury trials, parties have twenty minutes after assignment to file a peremptory challenge. If a personal injury case is assigned for trial to judge not on the list of personal injury judges, parties have sixty minutes to file.

The attorneys at Fortin Law Group understand the importance of complying with court deadlines, especially the unique time constraints imposed by the Government Code.

1 Either party may file a peremptory challenge to a judge's assignment based on the judge's prejudice against the party, attorney, or interest thereof. (Code of Civil Procedure §170.6).

This article was provided by Fortin Law Group, Costa Mesa, California. This article is intended to provide the reader with general information regarding current legal issues. It is not construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for the need to seek competent legal advice on specific legal matters.

Tags: 2018, General Liability

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