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Trial Scheduling

In order to get a civil trial date in Cowlitz County, you need to follow Local Rules 16 and 40. You are not allowed to schedule a civil case for trial until it is actually ready to go to trial. "Readiness" is not dependent on the case being "at issue" in legal terms. To be considered "Ready for Trial" all discovery must be completed, and other rule requirements must be met before a trial will be set. These rules pertain to all civil matters including Domestic Relations (Family Law).

Trial Scheduling is done under local rules 16 and 40 which can be found HERE.

Washington Legal Help has provided a nice walk through of the process which can be reviewed HERE. A summary of that document follows (Thanks to Washington Legal Help!)

Process for Getting a Trial Date in Cowlitz County Superior Court:

  • If you have a civil case in Cowlitz County Superior Court AND 
  • The respondent/defendant in the case has filed a response to the petition/complaint AND
  • You need to ask the court to schedule your case for a trial
A civil case is one that is not a criminal case.

How do I get a trial date?

You must:

  • Fill out a special “Trial Setting/Certificate of Readiness” form
  • Have a copy of the form served on the other party
  • File proof of service with the court
  • Go to court on the day the clerk told you to go for the “trial assignment docket”
A trial assignment docket is a special time the court sets aside on its schedule. On that day and time, only cases that need trial dates appear in the courtroom. Someone from the Court Administration office is in the courtroom. Be at the correct courtroom on time. Court Administration will call each case in the order that it was set for trial scheduling. The Court Administration person checks whether each case is ready for a trial date. The Court Administration person schedules and announces a trial date for each case that is ready.

There are two trial setting forms. Which do I use?

Domestic Relations Trial Setting Notice and Certificate of Readiness – for family law cases only.
Civil Trial Setting Notice and Certificate of Readiness – All other cases use this form. DO NOT USE THIS FORM FOR A FAMILY LAW CASE.

Where can I get these forms?

You can find forms on our web page here, you can also get the forms from the clerk.

Can the court refuse to give me a trial date?

Yes, if:

  • The case scheduling order has not been completed
  • The defendant/respondent has NOT filed a response
  • The other party files an objection to the Certificate of Readiness (see next section)

The other party filed an objection to my Certificate of Readiness. Now what?

If the other party has served you with an objection to your Certificate of Readiness, the other party is either trying to put off having a trial or they do not believe the parties have done everything the court wants done before trial.

The filing of an objection removes the case from the trial assignment docket. You may want to contact the other party and find out why they filed the objection.
If the other party has served you with an objection, review it carefully. If there is anything you have not done that the rules say you should, you must do it, if possible, before your court hearing.

I am not the party who filed the Certificate of Readiness. I disagree that the case is ready for trial. What can I do?

You must

  • File an Objection to the Certificate of Readiness
  • Serve a copy of your objection on the other party
  • Schedule the case on a motion calendar

A motion calendar is a morning, afternoon or day when the court only hears motions in cases. There are no trials or other matters. In Cowlitz County, there are different dockets for cases where no party has a lawyer (pro se dockets) and cases where at least one party has a lawyer (attorney dockets).

What is a Case Scheduling Order?

It is a schedule a judge signs of deadlines you must meet in your case. You or the other party can ask for one, OR the judge can enter it on his/her own.
The deadlines are for things you must finish before you can have a trial. What things you must finish before you can have a trial depends on the type of case. Some examples are:

  • Statements of family financial status (dissolution cases only)
  • Lists of witnesses you plan to call at trial
  • Date the court and parties must get any guardian ad litem report
  • Settlement conference (dissolution cases only)
  • Discovery

How do I get a case scheduling order?

Case Scheduling Order Forms LINK. If you cannot agree to dates, you must schedule the matter on a motion docket. There is a special checkbox for case scheduling orders on the docket notice. The judge will decide what your deadlines are in the case.
You can also get the forms from the clerk.

Which case scheduling order form should I use?

It depends.
Case Scheduling Order Pro Se Domestic Relations – use this in a family law case when neither you nor the other party has a lawyer
Case Scheduling Order Domestic Relations – use this in a family law case when at least one party has a lawyer
Case Scheduling Other Civil – for all other non-criminal cases

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. This information is current as of June 2015.
©2015 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)



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