To Be Continued

Many of the patrons at the Alameda County Law Library seek information about continuances.  Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) at page 363, column 1, defines a continuance as “The adjournment or postponement of a trial or other proceeding to a future date.”  According to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c), such motions are “disfavored.”  Nonetheless, courts have the discretion to grant them.  If you are seeking a continuance in California, several secondary sources can be extremely useful for understanding the substantive and procedural law and for seeing sample language for the required filings.  Particularly useful resources include:

  • Chapter 136 of California Forms of Pleading and Practice Annotated (Matthew Bender)
  • Chapter 42 of California Civil Procedure Before Trial (CEB)
  • Chapter 21 of California law and Motion: Model Forms (Rutter)  (sample notice of motion, memorandum, declaration and proposed order only)

As with California, other jurisdictions generally frown upon continuances but will grudgingly grant them.  Occasionally the grounds for granting one are so extraordinary as to make headlines.  One recent continuance granted by a Texas court has become fairly well-known in the Bay Area.  The court granted an emergency motion for continuance to Darrell Cook, an attorney and Texas Rangers fan who wanted to attend this year’s Major League Baseball World Series in San Francisco. 

Other examples of sports-related continuances include one from December 2009, where an Alabama Court granted a continuance so that the attorneys for a defendant could watch the Alabama Crimson Tide play the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game.  In December of 2007, a Louisiana court granted a continuance when the Louisiana State University Tigers played the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.  Another Louisiana court granted a continuance in January of that year when the New Orleans Saints played Chicago Bears for the NFC championship.  Also in Louisiana and also involving the New Orleans Saints was a January 2010 order granting a continuance where the court took judicial notice of “Saintsmania” and recognized that that the presence of jurors, attorneys, and court personnel at the game would “enhance[] the chances of the Who Dat [sic] Nation to acquire the long sought after Holy Grail—the Vince Lombardi Trophy.”

While the South (Louisiana in particular) has led the way with regard to sports-related continuances, courts elsewhere have also granted continuances for unusual grounds.  Just last week, U.S. Judge Kimba Wood granted a continuance to a defense attorney to attend his grandchild’s bris, its circumcision, should it be born a boy.  Had it been a granddaughter, eliminating the need for the continuance, Judge Wood’s response stated that “there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women.”

It should be noted, however, that attendance at a child’s bris soon may not be an option for some Bay Area attorneys and therefore not grounds for continuance.  A San Francisco group calling themselves intactivists are seeking to put a measure on next November’s ballot that would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise a child in that city.

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