One of the most common frustrations I encounter from week to week is the seemingly ubiquitous court policy of not ruling on defense motions to continue until the time of the hearing that’s supposed to be continued. It defies logic. In the past, I’ve timely filed the motion, specifically said I want the hearing date vacated and reset, and the state has even stipulated, but courts have still insisted on wasting my time and my client’s time by requiring we both attend the hearing before granting the continuance.
When I show up for those hearings, the courtroom is invariably overcrowded, the judge is furiously trying to rush through the docket, and there are a number of highly irritable and impatient defense attorneys sitting around. Although the judge usually grants the motion to continue without any kind of appearance, I’m sure someone thoroughly checks the sign-in sheets to make sure the client actually showed up. We can’t let people miss hearings, can we?
Interestingly, the courts with that kind of policy tend to be the same ones that constantly complain about budget problems and like to come up with clever cost-saving measures that tend to harm or at the very least inconvenience criminal defendants.
I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.