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  • Shelly Albaum

Possible Progress in California -- New Trial Date Coming Soon


It's hard to remember that we had a trial date in California a few months ago, May 12, 2020. We have actually had six separate trial dates scheduled in this case:


1. April 2, 2019

2. July 9, 2019

3. October 29, 2019

4. October 15, 2019

5. October 22, 2019

6. May 12, 2020


We've blown past all those dates, for a variety of reasons, most recently COVID.


The federal courthouse in Los Angeles has been closed for months, with no civil trials at all, and telephonic hearings only for emergency motions and criminal matters.


On July 7, the parties met with Judge Carney for a status conference. We have been very curious about what might have been said, but we were not there. However, a transcript of that meeting was recently released, so it's just like being there. You can read the transcript yourself:


Transcript of July 7, 2020 Status Meeting


What we learn from the transcript is a few details about the failed settlement negotiations, and Judge Carney's obviously sincere attempts to get us a trial date. If we had been willing to forgo a jury, we could have had a bench trial sooner. But Judge Carney thought in July that he would likely be able to get us a trial date this Fall.


Judge Carney lives in Orange County, and his courtroom was in the federal courthouse in Santa Ana. But in anticipation of becoming Chief Judge of the Central District, his courtroom last year moved to downtown Los Angeles. Judge Carney became Chief Judge on June 1st. Soon after, though, he got in a tussle with the Court Clerk, and at the end of June he decided it made more sense to step down and let someone else by Chief Judge. Judge Carney's courtroom moved back to Santa Ana on July 13.


I mention this because COVID is severe in Los Angeles County, and the federal courthouse in Los Angeles is not about to open up any time soon.


Orange County, by contrast, is having a much better go of it. On September 14, the new Chief Judge of the Central District issued General Order 20-12 allowing the Southern Division -- including the Santa Ana Courthouse in Orange County -- to begin hearing civil cases, and stating that "The Santa Ana Courthouse is open to persons with court business and subject to all posted restrictions."


With that context, we were delighted to see a new entry appear on Judge Carney's docket today


directing the parties to confer, and to file by November 4 an updated joint report including a proposed trial date.


So with a little luck we'll have our trial date in two weeks, and hopefully the date that we have will be soon thereafter.


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