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If the parties to a case anticipate that it will not take up a significant amount of time, they may apply for the court to designate it as a short cause. Cases on the "short cause" calendar will get priority since they will not tie up a courtroom for a long time.
The time permitted for a short cause varies from one court to another, but usually will not exceed one day. Other traits include, e.g., usually no jury is used.
If a "short cause" lasts beyond its designated time limit, the judge may declare a mistrial and reset the case to be held later as a "long cause."
According to the 2010 California Rules of Court:
Rule 3.735. Management of short cause cases
- (a) Short cause case defined
- A short cause case is a civil case in which the time estimated for trial by all parties or the court is five hours or less. All other civil cases are long cause cases.
- (Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2007.)
- (b) Exemption for short cause case and setting of case for trial
- The court may order, upon the stipulation of all parties or the court's own motion, that a case is a short cause case exempted from the requirements of case management review and set the case for trial.
- (c) Mistrial
- If a short cause case is not completely tried within five hours, the judge may declare a mistrial or, in the judge's discretion, may complete the trial. In the event of a mistrial, the case will be treated as a long cause case and must promptly be set either for a new trial or for a case management conference.
Rule 3.735 amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as rule 214 effective July 1, 2002.