There are many different kinds of court dates: there are emergency hearings, temporary hearings, discovery hearings, pre-trial conferences, and trials. The court system usually does not operate quickly. In some areas, litigants may wait literally years to get a trial date. The longer the trial, the longer the wait.
Clients generally do not have to attend motions that are purely legal in nature where there will be no testimony taken. A good example of this is a Motion to Compel Answers to Discovery. Of course, clients should always check with their lawyer, and they certainly have the right to attend everything that takes place in their case. Temporary Hearings, Motions for Contempt or to Modify, and Trials usually require testimony, and clients should expect to be present and prepared to testify.
What many clients don’t understand is that there are often many cases set for hearings or trials or other actions on the same day. That means a hearing scheduled for 9:00 a.m. might not go forward until later in the day. It also means it might not go forward at all. Lawyers take care to ask where they will be on the docket before they schedule a matter, and they should also develop a system of checking with the Court administrator the day before hearings and trials to see where their case is on the docket. This will allow them to prepare themselves and their clients for possible delay.
Upon arrival at court, the lawyers usually obtain the “docket” or list of cases set for the day. Cases which are on the docket may settle or be continued and the order will change. Clients should be prepared for almost anything when they attend court for a hearing or trial.