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What is a valid reason to not show up to court?

Santa Ana, CA |

I have trial in family court and I cannot go. I need to call the clerk before but I need to know what reasons are excused by the court for missing trial?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. You need to ask for a continuance. If you just don't show up, the court will most likely award the other side whatever they ask for.


  2. Rule 3.1332 of the California Rules of Court sets forth the specific grounds for seeking a postponement of trial.

    Although continuances of trials are disfavored, each request for a continuance must be considered on its own merits. The court may grant a continuance only on an affirmative showing of good cause requiring the continuance. Circumstances that may indicate good cause include:

    (1)The unavailability of an essential lay or expert witness because of death, illness, or other excusable circumstances;

    (2)The unavailability of a party because of death, illness, or other excusable circumstances;

    (3)The unavailability of trial counsel because of death, illness, or other excusable circumstances;

    (4)The substitution of trial counsel, but only where there is an affirmative showing that the substitution is required in the interests of justice;

    (5)The addition of a new party if:

    (A)The new party has not had a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery and prepare for trial; or

    (B)The other parties have not had a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery and prepare for trial in regard to the new party's involvement in the case;

    (6)A party's excused inability to obtain essential testimony, documents, or other material evidence despite diligent efforts; or

    (7)A significant, unanticipated change in the status of the case as a result of which the case is not ready for trial.

    (d) Other factors to be considered

    In ruling on a motion or application for continuance, the court must consider all the facts and circumstances that are relevant to the determination. These may include:

    (1)The proximity of the trial date;

    (2)Whether there was any previous continuance, extension of time, or delay of trial due to any party;

    (3)The length of the continuance requested;

    (4)The availability of alternative means to address the problem that gave rise to the motion or application for a continuance;

    (5)The prejudice that parties or witnesses will suffer as a result of the continuance;

    (6)If the case is entitled to a preferential trial setting, the reasons for that status and whether the need for a continuance outweighs the need to avoid delay;

    (7)The court's calendar and the impact of granting a continuance on other pending trials;

    (8)Whether trial counsel is engaged in another trial;

    (9)Whether all parties have stipulated to a continuance;

    (10)Whether the interests of justice are best served by a continuance, by the trial of the matter, or by imposing conditions on the continuance; and

    (11)Any other fact or circumstance relevant to the fair determination of the motion or application.


  3. I strongly suggest you reconsider not appearing at a trial. I am assuming you are a party to this action and, chances are the Court will rule against you and at best will think you are a flake. Unless you are actually in the hospital right now a Court is not going to be happy with you. Problems with work, car trouble, etc. may help you explain why you may be a bit late but if you do not show up at all, expect serious ramifications.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: These materials have been prepared by Adina T. Stern, A Professional Law Corporation for informational purposes only and are not intended as legal advice. The information available in this answer is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The information on legal issues available here is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney who is familiar with all of the facts surrounding your particular situation who is licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.