By Jeremy Rosenthal
One of the most common questions I’m asked is what will happen on my court date. Other common terms for court dates are “announcements.”
Your court date is normally just a work session between your attorney and the prosecutor in Collin County. Understand each of our courts have hundreds if not thousands of cases pending at any given time. Unfortunately we only have one Judge per court with his or her staff.
This means they’ve got a lot more people to worry about than just you — even though your case might be quite serious. The Court staff accomplish several goals during a court session (commonly referred to as docket). First is they make sure a person on bond is in good status by checking in, and secondly they are making sure cases are moving through the system and not just becoming stagnant. Obviously one of the judge’s additional roles is to ensure justice and that the laws are carried out (normally in a trial, hearing or plea proceedings).
During each court session the prosecutor should have access to their file and the defense lawyer has the opportunity to ask questions, review the file (Collin County has an open-file policy), and otherwise communicate important facts about the case to the prosecutor.
Ultimately the prosecutor and defense lawyer attempt to resolve the case and remove it from the Court’s docket. This can be done by setting the case for trial, plea bargaining the case, or having the case dismissed. These decisions are not necessarily made on the first court setting. Frequently the decision making process may take two or three settings or announcements.
If you have a letter giving you a first setting date from the Collin County Courts at Law or Collin County District Courts, you don’t need to worry that this is a trial setting. The court setting is a chance for your lawyer to learn about your case, advise you, and make progress towards the resolution of your case.