Today, as I was speaking with a concerned family member of my client, I
got the feeling that she did not believe the accuracy and truth of the
information I was giving her. It was obvious that her tone was accusatory
with a slight bit of sarcasm as though I was a seven year old lying about
not cleaning her room and trying to cover it up. It is not uncommon that
my clients want me to explain what is going on in their case with a family
member or trusted friend, either to ensure they properly understand what
is going on or to make sure the attorney is not pulling a fast one over
them. This particular client was a very nice woman who wanted to make
sure she was making the right decisions. The client's family member,
however, felt that because she had the court's docket, she was preparing
to dish out a law school pop quiz; unfortunately for her ego, it was a
pop quiz I was prepared and eager to take. Now, before I lead you to believe
this blog is about getting family members involved, it is actually about
court dockets. A blog in the near future will discuss whether or not getting
other people involved in your case is beneficial to the success of your case.
A court docket provides information regarding the brief history of all
filed motions, filed notices, hearings set, and any cancellations/withdrawals
of motions and hearings. It can be found online on the Clerk of Courts
website. Its purpose is to serve as a guideline to Judges, Attorneys,
Plaintiff(s), Defendant(s), or any interested party. Every county has
a different version/style of the docket. Certain counties charge you for
this information for every single time you need to pull it up (such as
Broward County) or may even require you to register with the Clerk's
Office to have access to it.
Although it is suppose to create clarity and bring understanding to what
has occurred in any particular case, it often times creates confusion.
It is not always 100% accurate. The clerk's office often times mislabels
documents and certain information may not appear. However, the worse screw
up of all is the amount of time it may take to upload the court orders
signed by the judge. Many times have I gone before the judge and he/she
cannot find information that we know should be on the docket but is not.
This is not some sort of court secret or an unspoken truth. The reason
this usually happens is the clerk's office is backed up with a ton
of work to do. Another headache we encounter when dealing with dockets
is when there is no explanation or specificity as to the items listed
on the docket. For example, the docket may say 'Order on Default'
but does not tell you who was defaulted or it will show discovery but
doesn't specify whether the Plaintiff or Defendant sent it out. One
popular example is when the judge cancels a sale date, but that information
has not been uploaded and clients are freaking out, with reason, until
the accusations start flying. All of this information is important, hence
the main purpose of the docket.
To sum up, there are a few points to this blog. First, to inform you of
the existence and purpose of the court docket and your ability to be informed
on what is going on in your case, whether you are represented or not.
Second, before calling your attorney to yell at him/her for something
that may or may not be on the docket, please make sure to get clarification
before making assumptions and accusations. For the most part, the docket
is correct, but it's not uncommon for it to be missing information.
It could just be the clerk's fault!
At the corner of dockets & clerks,
Sonja-Lucienne Cajuste, Esq.