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Dockety Dock

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.