Step 9: The Trial Calendar

NOTICE FOR TRIAL CALENDAR CALL

When a criminal defendant’s case appears on a trial calendar it often incites panic in both the defendant and his/her family. The immediate assumptions are that (1) the defendant’s case is the only one being called in for trial and (2) that the trial will be held on the day the defendant is required to appear for the calendar call. While sometimes both of those things occur, the much more common occurrence around the Atlanta area is that the trial calendar contains many, many cases (depending on the judge) and trials are often scheduled to start at a later time. Typically, the purpose of the trial calendar call is for the judge to ascertain which cases are ready for trial, which cases need continuances (if the judge is inclined to grant those – some aren’t), and which cases will be resolved with a plea or a dismissal.

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It is extremely important that a defendant take the notice that his case is appearing on a trial calendar seriously and make sure he has a lawyer ready to appear for him. By the time the case has reached the trial stage, many deadlines for filing motions have already passed and the lawyer will have to either request permission of the court to file motions or get the State to agree to allow the motions to be filed. Otherwise, the defendant may lose out on the benefits of having those motions and be somewhat hamstrung in the defense of the case. Additionally, there is the risk that the judge has a small calendar and the case will be reached for trial.

 BENCH WARRANTS FOR FAILING TO APPEAR

It’s also extremely important that the defendant show up for the calendar call unless excused by his/her attorney (who should have gotten permission from the court). Otherwise, the judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest for failing to appear and his/her bond will be revoked. Unless there is a really good reason for not being there (in the hospital, in another jail, in a treatment facility or something equally serious) courts are often not inclined to lift the warrant or grant bond on bench warrants.

The actual call of the calendar is frankly quite boring. Either the judge or the prosecutor will read out each case listed on the calendar individually so that the lawyers for the defendants can announce whether they are ready for trial, need a continuance, have motions pending or that their client is entering a plea. Pleas are often taken at the conclusion of the trial calendar.

If you or someone you know has been arrested, please give me a call today for a free and confidential discussion about the matter. My office number is 404-474-2531.

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