logo

Department 34 Guidelines and Policies

 

       
Help Me Find...

CONTACTING THE COURT:

DEPARTMENT 34 (925) 957-5734
  JUDGE: GEORGE V. SPANOS
  COURTROOM CLERK: SHIRLEY CASTILLO
  COURT REPORTER: PARTY TO PROVIDE AND PAY FOR
(if a record of the proceedings is wanted; see Local Rule 5 (l)
  BAILIFF: CHRIS BOUTTE
  DEPARTMENT FAX (925) 957-5912


COURT APPEARANCES:

Counsel are free to make their court appearances for case management conferences through CourtCall. No special requests are required.

Other matters (such as motions) require a personal appearance unless the court specifically approves a telephone appearance. If counsel wish to use CourtCall for appearances other than case management conferences they must contact the department clerk and secure permission to do so. On law and motion matters in which the parties wish to have a reporter present, the court cannot guarantee an accurate record unless counsel appear in person. Thus, counsel should not attempt to argue by telephone except in emergencies. However, CourtCall may be used simply to listen to an argument.

This court expects civility among counsel at all times. Parties, opposing counsel, and witnesses are to be formally referred to, not by first names, unless young children. While court is in session counsel should not approach the bench, the clerk or reporter.


WEEKLY SCHEDULE:

The usual weekly schedule for Department 34 is as follows:

  • Trials are generally held Monday through Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • “Trial call” takes place on Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m., although this can vary case by case. “Settlement Mentors” will usually be assigned to cases on the morning of trial call and will conference with counsel and parties in an effort to achieve a settlement. If more than one case is scheduled for trial, and settlement is not reached on more than one case, the court will determine that day which case will go to trial the following week, if no other trial is currently underway; the remaining cases will either trail or receive a new trial date.
  • Case management conferences in existing cases are held Tuesday and Wednesday at 8:45 a.m.
  • Law and Motion is heard Friday at 9:00 a.m.
  • Issue conferences and settlement conferences are held as scheduled by the court in consultation with counsel.
  • Tentative rulings are available on the court website at or shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
    • Contesting Tentative Rulings in Department 34
      • The tentative ruling will become the court's ruling unless by 4:00 p.m. of the court day preceding the hearing counsel. 
      • Fax or call the department rendering the decision to request argument and to specify precisely what issues are to be argued.
      • Department 34’s Fax Number is: 925-957-5912.
      • Counsel who request argument must advise all other affected counsel and unrepresented parties by no later than 4:00 p.m. of his or her decision to appear and of the precise issues to be argued.
      • Failure to timely advise the court and counsel will preclude counsel from arguing the matter.
      • Note: Department 34 prefers and encourages fax notification to minimize the risk of a miscommunication.
    • Submission of Orders After Hearing in Department 34 Cases
      The prevailing party must prepare an order after hearing in accordance with the requirements of CRC 3.1312. If the tentative ruling becomes the court’s ruling, a copy of the court’s tentative ruling must be attached to the proposed order when submitted to the court for issuance of the order.


MOTIONS, INCLUDING APPLICATIONS FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENTS:

  • California Rule of Court 3.1110 (f), Format of Exhibits, provides: “Each exhibit must be separated by a hard 8-1/2" x 11" sheet with hard paper or plastic tabs extending below the bottom of the page, bearing the exhibit designation. An index to exhibits must be provided. Pages from a single deposition and associated exhibits must be designated as a single exhibit.”
  • Please take note that Department 34 will not accept or consider motions, including applications for default judgments, unless there is compliance with the above-referenced rule, in particular that part of the rule which requires that “Each exhibit must be separated by a hard 8-1/2" x 11" sheet with hard paper or plastic tabs extending below the bottom of the page, bearing the exhibit designation.”


APPLICATION FOR ORDER FOR PUBLICATION:

Dept. 34 requests that all applications for an order by publication of summons, etc. use the following form:  Application for Order for Publication


DISCOVERY MOTIONS:

Parties are required to participate in the Discovery Facilitator Program prior to filing any motion in court to compel discovery, unless specifically ordered otherwise. This includes motions pursuant to CCP Section 1987.1. (See Local Rule, Appendix E)


COURTESY COPIES OF MOTIONS, OPPOSITIONS AND REPLIES:

Courtesy copies must be delivered to Dept. 34 on the date of filing; courtesy copes are never to be faxed or emailed to Dept. 34 unless express permission is granted by the court. Counsel are to note that originals are to be filed with the Office of the Clerk and are not to be delivered to Dept. 34 for filing. The courtroom clerk is not responsible for the filing of original documents.


TRIALS:

  • The court generally schedules the pretrial issue conference 3-4 weeks before trial. The conference is governed by Local Rule 5, except that the court has issued a departmental standing order (see Standing Order Re: Issue Conference) supplementing and modifying Rule 5.
  • As a general rule motions in limine will be discussed at the conference on a tentative basis. If there is a meaningful disagreement between the parties’ positions, the court will generally order further briefing and schedule further oral argument.
  • Voir dire examination is done by using a “6 pack” so that 18 jurors have been passed for cause when the peremptory challenges begin. The court will conduct limited voir dire and all counsel a reasonable time to conduct their own.


COURT TRIALS:

Preliminary note:  The parties to a court trial must comply with Local Rule 5(k) regarding issue conferences and issue conference statements and Dept. 34’s Standing Order Re: Issue Conference, except insofar as anything relates exclusively to jury trials.

  1. The parties are to meet and confer at least 30 days prior to trial for the purpose of formulating and filing with the court, on the date the Issue Conference Statement must be filed, a joint list of all controverted issues and any stipulations the parties may have reached with respect to these issues. If the parties are unable to agree on a joint list, then each party must file and serve, on the date the Issue Conference Statement must be filed, a list of what each considers to be the controverted issues in the case (and any stipulations the parties may have reached with respect to these issues).
     
  2. The trial will be recessed after the presentation of evidence, and a date will be set to resume the trial for argument.
     
  3. Prior to argument, each party must file and serve, simultaneously, a proposed statement of decision. This proposed statement of decision must include proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law on each issue. Each party must file their proposed statement of decision at least 10 court days prior to the date set for argument; in addition, a copy is to be emailed to dept34@contracosta.courts.ca.gov.
     
  4.  Upon conclusion of the arguments of all parties, unless the court requires further papers to be filed by the parties, or further argument, the court will take the case under submission.
     
  5. The court will then proceed to prepare, file and serve on all parties its proposed (tentative) statement of decision.
     
  6. Objections to proposed statement of decision:
    1. Any objection to the statement of decision will be filed on or before 20 court days following the date of service of the court’s proposed statement of decision;
       
    2. If no objections are filed within the 20 court days, the proposed statement of decision will become the final statement of decision.  In this event, the court will issue a minute order that the proposed statement of decision is the final statement of decision, there having been no objections filed.
       
    3. If there are objections filed, the court will use its discretion whether to set a hearing on the objections, but will, in any event, consider the objections, acknowledge the making of the objections in the proposed statement of decision, and state the extent, if any, the objections affected the final statement of decision. If it appears to the court that an objection will change the statement of decision, the court will notice a hearing for all parties to be heard prior to issuing the final statement of decision.

 


 

Tell us about your court experience

 

Report website problems