What happens at the start of your trial for unlawful detainer (eviction)?

On the day set for trial, the judge will tell you your case has been assigned to a courtroom. You will be told to report to that courtroom immediately. What is going to happen at the trial?

The judge to whom you have been assigned will usually tell you the rules of her courtroom. For example, she might inform the parties that she wants your exhibits put in a binder with number or letters separating the exhibits, or what the schedule of the trial will be. Some judges “go dark” one day a week, so the judge can work on matters that have come up in other cases. Other judges prefer to have the trial throughout the week, and work on other matters before the jury comes in. Under some local court rules, you need to have proposed jury instructions, a neutral statement of the case and a list of witness ready to give to the judge and to the landlord’s attorney.

It is also good to serve subpoenas to your witnesses before trial. That way, if they do not show up at your trial, the judge can issue an order mandating that the witness appear and give testimony. If you do not serve a subpoena then the judge has no power to make your witness appear.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Tenant Attorney
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San Francisco, CA 94109

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