Understanding Your California Case Management Conference

Case Management ConferenceBusiness litigation consists of a number of different phases.

  • Filing a Complaint
  • Filing Answers
  • Discovery Preparation
  • Alternative Disputes Resolution
  • Etc.

It’s a systematic process whereby each stage is designed to make progress on the case by potentially eliminating one or all of the legal issues at hand, with the ultimate goal being to avoid a costly trial altogether.

In a California State Civil Matter, part of the litigation process is the Case Management Conference. The court is required to schedule a CMC no later than 180 days after the initial complaint is filed. The purpose of your CMC is to ensure that all parties to the matter are equally prepared for trial dates, discovery deadlines, and other critical milestones in order for the outcome of the case to be as fair and judicious as possible.

I will repeat.

A Case Management Conference is designed to uniformly prepare you and the opposing party for the litigation boundaries and trial timeline. That means a CMC is NOT a place to plead your case to the judge. It is not a deposition where you can tell your side of the story. And it is not the place to bring your witnesses to prove why you are right.

If you properly prepare for your CMC, understand its purpose, and know what to expect of it, then you’ll be able to reap as much benefit as possible out of this worthwhile stage of civil litigation. If you aren’t properly prepared, though, you could waste a valuable opportunity to make the most of your case.

CRC 3.727 identifies a number of explicit issues that must be addressed during the CMC. These are the critical concerns that will be given measured attention at the conference attended by you, the judge, the opposing party and your attorney, if you prefer. One vital goal of the conference is to give the judge an opportunity to review the elements of the case and determine if an alternative form of dispute resolution is appropriate. Remember, the ultimate goal of litigation is to settle all of the legal matters at hand and avoid a lengthy and expensive trial.

Other items on the CMC agenda might include;

  • Setting a discovery schedule and resolving any discovery disputes
  • Identifying the uncontested facts of the case
  • Identifying the disputed facts and determining if the list can be narrowed
  • Addressing the possibility of settlement
  • Tackling the issue of electronic discovery preparation
  • And more

At least 15 days prior to the CMC, you will be required to file a Case Management Statement using mandatory form CM-100. This statement does two things for you. First, it is your opportunity to provide a brief statement about the case, in your own words and from your point of view.  Additionally, the statement allows you to provide the courts with crucial and un-debatable facts of the case such as the status of your discovery preparation, contact information for your legal counsel, and any issues that you have particular questions or concerns about. It is advised that you review this statement with your business litigating attorney prior to submitting it to the courts.

Note that you are required by law to be represented at your CMC. If you don’t plan on being there yourself, then you must arrange for an attorney to be there in your place – and not just any attorney; a qualified one. Your representative must be familiar with the elements of your case, knowledgeable of the legal issues to be discussed and prepared to negotiate alternative resolutions with confidence. Failure to appear yourself and/or provide proper representation could result in substantial fines or even dismissal of your case.

Finally, preparation for your case management conference should not be complete without the advice of exceptional legal counsel because litigation is a vital time when having an experienced attorney means the most. Contact the Law Offices of Tony T. Liu. We’ll guide you through the Case Management Conference – and every other step of the litigation evolution.