What is a Calendar Call? Answers to Your Questions

Posted by Megan GroutMar 10, 20240 Comments

Court Notice
Calendar Call

What Is A Calendar Call?

Answers To Your Questions

     Did you get a court date notice in the mail that says Calendar Call or Jury Trial Call or Docket Call? This part of the criminal trial process can be very confusing for people. It is especially confusing if the notice you get in the mail also has jury trial weeks listed on it. Let me explain what it is in basic terms. 

     A Calendar call (sometimes called a Jury Trial Call or Docket Call) is where the judge expects every person who has a criminal case pending in front of that judge to come in to court (with their lawyer) so the judge can be given an update on how each case is progressing. I tell my clients it usually just boils down to a status announcement made by the lawyer. However, the defendant is expected to be present as well if they are out of custody. Most calendar calls in Cobb are done in person but there are some other jurisdictions that hold them by Zoom.

Do I have to go to the Calendar Call if I don't want to?

     A calendar call notice is an officially scheduled court date and you are required to be present unless you have been excused by the judge. If you miss it without permission, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Then you can be arrested and placed in the jail. Your bonding company may come after you as well if you used a bondsman to get out when you were first arrested. If you are arrested, it will then require some work by your lawyer to get the FTA (failure to appear) or bench warrant lifted so you can be released. Sometimes, the prosecution may move to have your bond revoked entirely for failing to appear as required, and your bonding company may come off your bond.  So, it is always a good idea to come to every court appearance unless the judge or your lawyer clearly tells you that you can be excused. And never assume you are excused from every future calendar call - you should make sure you understand whether you are excused for every future court date or just for one. 

What if I live far away or don't have transportation?

     All criminal defendants who are not in custody are usually expected to show up in court as ordered unless they have been excused. If you have a lawyer, the lawyer may be able to get permission from the judge for you to be excused or perhaps given permission for you to appear by zoom if you have a very good reason for being unable to appear in person.  You need to ask for permission to miss court well in advance of the court date - don't wait until the day before court. It takes time for the court to receive the request, hear from the prosecution as to whether they object, and get a decision on if you can be excused. If you don't hear back from the court, you are expected to appear.  

What if I don't have a lawyer?

     If you don't have a lawyer, you will have to answer the questions at calendar call that the judge asks you with regard to the status of your case. One of the first things the judge will likely ask you is if you are planning to get a lawyer. While it is never required that you have a lawyer to represent you, it is highly recommended. If you are trying to get a lawyer, the judge may give you a little more time to get one, but the judge will not let you put things off forever. Sometimes judges make you come in to court quite often until you have hired a lawyer. 

     If you don't plan on getting a lawyer, you will need to answer the judge's questions about the status of your case and whether you are ready for trial. There are only certain announcements that will allow you to (at least temporarily) postpone the start of your trial. And until the trial itself has started, you will likely have to attend regular calendar calls to continue to keep the judge updated.  

What will my lawyer do at the Calendar Call?

     If you have a lawyer, you have must less to worry about when it comes to Calendar Call. Your lawyer will let the judge know the status of the discovery in the case (whether the state has provided the evidence to the defense that your lawyer demanded), whether they anticipate any pre-trial motions that the court will need to schedule, and any other issues that need to be addressed before a case can either go to trial or be resolved another way. Your lawyer also may take some time to "pre-try" the case on the day of calendar call, meaning talk to the prosecutor a little before giving the judge an updated announcement on how things are progressing. If you have a lawyer, hopefully the most you will be required to do in court is stand up when your name is called so the judge knows that you are present.

How long does it take for Calendar Call?

     Each judge handles their calendar calls a little different. Some judges call in their entire calendar at once in the morning or afternoon. So, that could mean the judge is going to hear announcement on 150 or more cases. It can take many hours to get through all those announcements, and you have to sit and wait until your case is called. Other judges do smaller calendar calls at different times throughout a week. So, when you go in, there may only be 20 or so cases on your calendar that day, which means you'll be done more quickly. Also, it is important to remember that some judges are just more chatty than others, so some just take longer to get through all the cases. Ask your lawyer if they can give you an idea of what the calendar looks like so you can get a better idea of how many hours it will take.   

What are the Jury Weeks for that are listed on the notice I got?

     Some calendar call notices will include a week or two of "jury trial weeks" on them. This can be confusing. It is best to speak with your lawyer if you have one or otherwise ask the judge at Calendar Call whether you will be expected to appear in court for the jury trial weeks. Normally, when you have a lawyer, you do not need to appear for the jury trial weeks unless your case has reached the point of where you are ready to have a trial and the judge has decided that your case may be tried on one of those weeks. Most of the time, you and your lawyer will know in advance if you're expected to be ready for trial during those week or if you are "on call" (meaning you will be given short notice that you must come in and start your trial.) 

     If you do not have a lawyer, some judges require you to come in to these trial weeks to either give ongoing updates or perhaps even observe a trial. It is up to the judge and you need to make sure you're clear on what the court wants you to do. 

How often will I have to go to Calendar Call?

     Each judge does their Calendar Call schedule a little different. Some judges hold them once a month. Other judges hold them quarterly. Some judges pick only certain cases to come in for a calendar call and allow others to report by email. You need to ask your lawyer if they know what to expect, depending on which judge has been assigned your case. 

Will I be drug tested at Calendar Call?

     For most people who are out on bond, the bond requirements include refraining from using alcohol and drugs. That means that if you are using either while out on bond, having it in your system will be a violation of your bond. I have seen some judges drug test people who are late for calendar call. I have seen other judges randomly decide to test everyone on a particular day, regardless of their case status or whether people showed up on time. You should always expect that being drug tested is a possibility and handle yourself accordingly. If you do test positive for drugs or alcohol at a Calendar Call, your bond is subject to being revoked.

If I have a warrant, can they arrest me at Calendar Call? 

     If there is a warrant out for your arrest, it is possible you may be arrested anytime you come into contact with law enforcement or appear in court. The deputies in the courtroom may be aware of your outstanding warrant and arrest you right there in the courtroom. Having an outstanding warrant and a court date notice can pose a problem, because if you skip court to avoid being arrested, you can then get a bench warrant from the judge for missing court. The best bet is to talk to your lawyer about a plan to turn yourself in and get you out as smoothly and quickly as possible. 

     Many people realize after getting their first court appearance notice that they should not try to handle their criminal case without a lawyer. If you have an upcoming court date in Cobb, call me so we can talk about how I can help you with your case.