Court Announces New Expedited Trial Program

July 18, 2011:

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California is pleased to announce the adoption of an expedited trial program. Newly-adopted General Order No. 64 (“Expedited Trial Procedures”) offers parties the option of consenting to a binding one-day trial to occur six months after the parties agree to the process.  Its purpose is to offer litigants access to justice in a more efficient and economical fashion.  The nuts and bolts of the program include the following:

  • The program is consensual and binding;
  • A case may be tried to a judge or jury;
  • To participate, the parties execute an “Agreement for Expedited Trial and Request for Approval”;
  • Expedited time schedules and rules of procedure begin when the court approves the Agreement;
  • The goal is to try the case in six months;
  • Discovery is limited to ten interrogatories, requests for production and request for admission each and 15 hours of deposition time to be used at the party’s discretion;
  • Experts are limited to one per side absent agreement of the parties or leave of the court;
  • Pretrial motions require leave of court and may not exceed three pages;
  • Neither the terms of the Agreement nor its existence may be revealed to the jury;
  • Juries will consist of six jurors which may be reduced to five should a juror become unable to serve;
  • The judge conducts jury voir dire and sets time limits for openings and closings;
  • Each side is allowed three hours per side for presentation of its case, including cross-examination;
  • Post-trial motions are limited to recovery of costs and attorney’s fees;
  • Grounds for new-trial motions and appeals are limited.

The expedited trial program is the result of a sustained effort by the Committee on Expedited Trials, which was appointed in September 2010 by then-Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker and chaired by Judge William Alsup. Judge Alsup states: “We expect that there is a demand in some cases for streamlined and expedited trials, with attendant saving in cost and risk, so we are providing this option upon stipulation by all parties.  A broad-based committee worked hard to develop a good template.”  The Committee is developing a series of continuing legal education programs, including webinars, to inform and train the bar in the use of the expedited trial program.

Read the news release.

Read General Order 64.