Civil appeals are notoriously slow; in non-COVID-19 times, we typically estimate 18 months from the filing of the notice of appeal to the disposition in the Second Appellate District of the Court of Appeal (covering Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties). The size and complexity of the case can affect that estimate, but most of the delays are out of your control.
However, there are exceptional circumstances in which your case may qualify for calendar preference, which is the Court of Appeal’s method for fast-tracking the process. The fast-track includes expedited briefing schedule and preference in setting the date of oral argument.
Which Cases Can “Fast-Track?”
Various statutes offer calendar preference by the reviewing court, and some offer trial setting preference (which appellate courts typically apply as well to appeals). Trial attorneys handling personal injury cases should be aware of a few specific examples in Code of Civil Procedure section 36:
- CCP § 36(a): Gives mandatory preference upon application to a party over age 70 who has a “substantial interest in the action as a whole” and whose health is such that preference is necessary to prevent prejudicing his or her interest in the litigation;
- CCP § 36(b): Gives mandatory preference upon application to a party to personal injury or wrongful death action who is under age 14 and who has a “substantial interest in the case as a whole”;
- CCP § 36(c)(2): Gives discretionary preference on application to a party that turns 70 years of age during the pendency of the action;
- CCP § 36(d): Gives discretionary preference on application to a party of any age that, upon “clear and convincing medical documentation” shows they are suffering from illness or condition raising “substantial medical doubt of survival” beyond six months;
- CCP § 36(e): Gives the court discretion to grant calendar preference upon application that is supported by a showing that satisfies the court that the “interests of justice” will be served by granting preference