A case management conference, or CMC, is a meeting of the judge with the attorneys and parties to discuss the progress of the case, and is really just a tool to move a case along. In Hillsborough County, the trial court will schedule the first CMC automatically at about 90 days out and the judge will sign an order requiring the parties and attorneys to appear at the date and time specified. The order will also require certain actions to be taken by the attorneys and parties, i.e. file a financial affidavit, schedule mediation, etc. If your case is in Hillsborough County, then expect that when a case is filed, the CMC will be automatically set and know that the attorneys have no discretion in the matter. If the court chooses a date and time when a party absolutely cannot attend, then a motion to either excuse attendance or reschedule can be filed.
At Rechel and Associates, we will go down the checklist of required actions to prepare for the CMC conference and schedule a 15 minute appointment with our client to discuss the objectives and expected outcome of the CMC and answer any questions the client may have. Clients need to know this hearing is routine and simple and nothing to worry about.
Parties should arrive at the hearing 5-10 minutes early. The attorney will meet the client there. CMCs are usually “cattle calls”, meaning that the court will set multiple CMC hearings on several cases at the same time and then will call each case one by one up for the hearing. The hearing itself will rarely take more than 5 minutes of court time, and then will be over. Waiting around in the hallway for the Bailiff to call the case, well, that is another matter. Expect that can take an hour or more. During that time the attorneys may discuss the facts of the case, settlement possibilities and what procedural steps may be taken to further the progress of the case.
During the hearing, the parties usually do not testify and usually do not speak at all. The attorney will do all the talking for you, providing the court with the case status including the actions completed, what is currently scheduled and pending before the court, and usually, an approximation of time needed going forward. The court will want to see that things are scheduled and the case is progressing forward. Depending on what is scheduled by the attorneys, the court may or may not schedule another CMC. For instance, if the attorneys inform the court that mediation is currently scheduled, the court will either set another case management conference for a date about 30 days after mediation in case there is no settlement or alternatively, ask the attorneys to contact the court to schedule if it does not settle at mediation. Sometimes, the court will order the matter set for trial, but this usually does not occur at the first CMC.
Parties should dress appropriately and be courteous. If the judge does ask a party a question, which is very rare, then a simple, honest and polite response is apropos. This is the only chance to make a first impression on the judge. And most importantly, just relax. The attorney will handle everything. That is why you have hired us.
If you have questions about an upcoming case management conference, or would like to seek help from an experienced attorney in filing your case, Rechel and Associates can help. Contact us today to find out more.