Attorneys are constantly traveling out of town for hearings at various WCAB offices. Often the hearing is for s Status Conference, versus MSC, Lien Conference, Expedited hearing or Trial. When the hearing is for a status conference, there is the possibility of the attorney appearing via court call, thus saving the client money for travel. This can amount at times from 2 hours to 8 hours or more, depending on the travel time. Additionally, the travel expenses are also saved. Consequently the client can have the overall expenses reduced dramatically by the attorney appearing via court call.
What is Court Call? It is the ability for the attorney to appear in court via a conference phone call and submit documentation to the court or opposing counsel by fax. The courts that allow court call all have both a speaker phone in the courtroom situated next to the judge and at a location where other parties can conveniently stand and talk. The fax machine is located next to or relatively close to the speaker phone.
What is good about court call? The money saved in travel time and travel expenses.
Court call is not for hearings such as an MSC, Trial, Lien Conference and Expedited Hearing where a personal appearance is mandatory. However, recently I saw an Applicant’s Attorney appear via court call on an MSC where he objected to the DOR and had a valid objection. While the court had original flet his appearance was improper, because his objection to the hearing and request for an OTOC was valid, the judge simply granted the objection and took the matter off calendar.
There are certain requirements for Court Call and the participating attorney’s office must be a member of court call, which is simply means Court Call needs someone to bill for the costs.
What is bad about Court Call? The attorney is not present to see who is there and to move the case along. The attorney is at the mercy of the judge who controls the proceedings and when the conference call proceeds forward.
As an example, I appeared at a conference via court call. The travel time to the hearing was a minimum of 3 ½ hours each way or a total of 7 hours travel and approximately $300 in travel costs for mileage. By the use of Court Call I was able to save my client 7 hours of travel and the mileage expenses. The cost for participating in Court Call was only $66. While the downside was that the hearing took longer than normal because I sat on the phone waiting for the court to come the conference call, it was still substantially less expensive than a personal appearance.
When appropriate, the use of court call is a money and time savings tool that can be used to the benefit of the defendant.