Morning calendar call in RI Family Court is Gobbledygook- Part 1-3

Rhode Island Family Court lawyers and RI associates Justices, Magistrates  and members of the bar are so  well versed in the bizarre and sometimes anachronistic calendar call it has become nearly normal. The key word here is “nearly”.  Lets call it what it is: The calendar call is “inside baseball” Gobbledygook that few outsiders or pro-se litigants could truly understand without years on the  Rhode Island Family court battlefield.

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Rhode Island Family Court | Inside baseball

One retired judge became so frustrated by these conflicting and confusing calendar calls, she decided there would only be two calls “ready” and “not ready”.  Genius! That made a lot of sense!  Another retired judge decided that ready subject calls would not be allowed anymore. These ready subject calls have gone the way of the 8 track tape  and are currently disfavored for whatever reason. The “ready subject” call is really a relic of the past that the old timers look back at fondly.

The Calendar call- a period of time which is normal for divorce lawyers and nonsense to everyone else

The calendar call occurs when the Rhode Island Family Court judge takes the bench and after everyone rises and pays their respect to the Justice. The first order of business is the calendar call when the clerk calls the calendar and the lawyers report the status of the case to the Court. The main purpose of the calendar is for the Associate Justice or General Magistrate to control their calendar case flow and determine which cases are going forward that day and the status of those cases.

The general rule is that settled cases first, conferences 2nd and hotly contested matters last. This is the carrot and the stick mentality.  If you settle you get out of court quickly (the carrot) and if you want to fight you have to wait until the end (the proverbial stick).

Here are some of the assorted calendar calls used by divorce and custody lawyers in Providence Family Court:

Calendar call: “Ready”

This typically  may indicate that both lawyers are ready for a hearing or hearing with testimony. But in reality, it does not actually mean that the lawyers are actually

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“ready” to t-up the cause of action at that moment in time. In some cases, the lawyers call it “ready” because they know the judge isn’t ready for the case and they hope that the  RI divorce attorneys will be ready when the judge is ready. This can cause some consternation if the judge is ready too soon but the lawyers are not ready.

The confusing part of the “ready” call is  what are the attorneys ready for? If the judge is familiar with the case and the intricacies of the case the judge will know what it is ready for. It will be an unspoken assumption. A case could be ready for a conference, a hearing without testimony, a testimonial hearing or even a trial. In many cases a ready call without more information imparted to the judge means that the lawyers will use the waiting time to figure out what they are ready for. It is often best practice to provide more information to the Family Court Justice such as: “ready trial”, “ready for a conference”, “ready hearing” or “ready when the opposing lawyer arrives in court after the traffic jam and her Dunkin Doughnut coffee stop”.

What could be the cause of a Providence custody lawyer calling it ready but not being ready?

  • There is a quick loose end that the lawyer has to hash out with opposing counsel or their client in the infamous hallways of the  Providence Garrahy Judicial Complex.
  • The client changes their mind about something agreed to.
  • One of the litigant chimes in “one last thing” and a brouhaha erupts.
  • Another judge needs one of the attorneys for another case.
  • One of the litigants needs to put money in the meter or an ill timed bathroom stop.
  • The lawyers were not ready in the first instance and were just hoping they would be ready  when the judge was ready so they could get out of court.

 Calendar call: “Ready hold”

This means the RI child custody lawyers are ready but not ready at the same time. The ultimate oxymoron. This appears to be a workaround concerning the above mentioned  “ready” call when you are not ready. Therefore, “ready hold” means you are ready but you need to work out one of the bullet-ed issues set forth above. “Ready hold” certainly addresses any misrepresentation that a “ready” call when the lawyers are not close to ready could cause.

If a case is called “ready hold” and this call is premised on an anticipatory readiness, it is imperative that both lawyers exit the court room immediately! The reason for this is the fundamental assumption that if both lawyers are sitting in the courtroom that this is an indirect representation that the matter is no longer held and is ready now. So if it is  called “ready hold” and not ready the Providence Family Court lawyers must hide.

How do lawyers remove the hold from a ” ready hold”  to a “ready” calendar call?

  • Sit quietly in the court looking at the judge with furloughed eyes and the judge will believe that the matter is really ready now. The RI Family Court justice will say something like “Mr.  Slepkow are you ready to go” or “Mr. Slepkow is the Johnson divorce ready”
  • Notify the judge’s clerk by approaching the clerk, by making eye contact or a hand gesture to the clerk that the hold is removed
  • Jumping up when there is a pause between cases and stating your honor “the Johnson case is now ready” or “Johnson is a nominal now.”

Calendar call: “Ready nominal”

This means that the case is ready for a nominal hearing. A nominal hearing occurs when all issues in a divorce have been resolved and the parties are ready for a perfunctory short divorce trial / hearing with testimony.

Calendar call: Hold

This could be the same call as “ready hold” but it it might not be. It could also mean the case is not ready but we need time to negotiate in the hallway to see if the case will become ready. It could mean the lawyers have no clue who will show up, why the case is on the calendar or a plethora of reasons. It could mean that one of the lawyers is ready but has to go handle another case with another judge which is also ready. Hold could mean that the attorney has no idea why opposing counsel is not present and needs to figure it out. In most cases, hold means that the attorneys need to negotiate and figure out what to do about the case.






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