A day and time scheduled for a hearing or a trial is called a setting; sometimes, unforeseen events will come up that make your setting impossible to keep as originally scheduled. If you go about it in the correct manner, it should be an easy task to change your court date to a more convenient time, especially if you were the one who originated the case on file. Likewise, if you are originating a court matter, you may want to request it to be heard on a specific day.
Coordinate with other parties involved, if they exist. It's easier to effect a change when all parties involved agree. Not all situations involve other people: name changes, default judgments, probates and some adoptions are examples where only one person may be involved.
Contact the district clerk's office to confirm your cause number. Your cause number is the unique identification number that has been assigned to your case by the court.
Confirm the court coordinator's contact information. The court coordinator's offices are generally in the same office as the district court they serve.
Compose your request letter. Be sure to state the purpose of your court date. Mention if the matter is contested. Also include your cause number and a realistic estimate of the amount of time your matter will take. If you are changing a setting, be certain to inform the court why you are changing the hearing date. Many courts will only reschedule if they believe the requesting party has good cause to do so. You may request a date and time, but ultimately, it's up to the court.
Send your request to the court coordinator via certified mail, return receipt requested. It is required that you send a copy to the other side as well, if there is another side to your case. If you are in a contested case, you will need to show the court that you notified the opposing side of the setting.
Expect an answer within five to seven business days. Many courts will confirm the setting via telephone rather than in writing. If you do not hear back from the court in that time frame, you may call the coordinator to confirm receipt and to check on the status of the change.
- If you are not the originator, but you wish to request a court date change, you need to give the court a compelling reason and ask for a continuance.
- Regarding civil matters, you may request a court date when you file your suit. If requesting a setting at the time you file your case, be sure that you check your state's laws for minimum waiting periods. Some types of court matters cannot be heard until they have been on file for a certain number of days.
- For criminal matters, the procedure is the same, except an individual cannot start a criminal case; the state must file first.
- Christopher D. Baran; Attorney; Graham, Texas