Case management in legal terms refers to the schedule of proceedings involved in a matter. There are various stages in litigation, such as the filing of a complaint, answers, the discovery process (interrogatories, subpoenae, depostions, etc.), and motions that occur before a trial is held or a decision is rendered. Each stage of the process has a scheduled timeframe in which it must be filed with the court or completed. When a complaint is filed and a case is assigned to a judge, the judge will often set forth a schedule for the submission or completion of the relevant pleadings, court appearances, and other matters.
For example, in a divorce matter, the judge will attempt to narrow the issues involved in the case, provide deadlines for filing schedules of assets, conducting discovery, filing of proposed visitation and custody plans, and other related matters. Depending on the jurisdiction, a case management questionaire may need to be filled out. The judge may also decide to send the parties to arbitration or mediation to settle disputed matters. The conduct of the case management conference varies by jurisdiction, so local court rules should be consulted.
A Case management Conference (CMC) is part of the court procedure. It is a meeting between the judge and the parties (the Plaintiff and the Defendant). The lawyers representing the parties may also appear at the conference. A case management conference usually happens after a plaintiff begins a law suit, but before the trial. The meeting is not a trial and as such witnesses don't need to be present. The main purpose of the meeting is to try settling some or all of the issues in dispute before going to trial. If no settlement is achieved at the CMC, the matter will proceed to trial.
Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure provides for Initial Case Management Conference in cases assigned to the Complex Civil Litigation Program. The Statute reads as follows:
Ariz. R. Civ. P. 16.3: Initial Case Management Conference in Cases Assigned to the Complex Civil Litigation Program
(a) Subjects for Consideration. Once a case is determined to be a complex civil case, an initial case management conference with all parties represented shall be conducted at the earliest practical date, and a Case Management Order issued by the court promptly thereafter. Among the subjects that should be considered at such a conference are:
(1) Status of parties and pleadings
(2) Determining whether severance, consolidation, or coordination with other actions is desirable
(3) Scheduling motions to dismiss or other preliminary motions
(4) Scheduling class certification motions, if applicable
(5) Scheduling discovery proceedings, setting limits on discovery and determining whether to appoint a discovery master
(6) Issuing protective orders
(7) Any requirements or limitations for the disclosure or discovery of electronically stored information, including the form or forms in which the electronically stored information should be produced;
(8) Any measures the parties must take to preserve discoverable documents or electronically stored information;
(9) Any agreements reached by the parties for asserting claims of privilege or of protection as to trial-preparation materials after production;
(10) Appointing liaison counsel and admission of non-resident counsel
(11) Scheduling settlement conferences
(12) Notwithstanding Rule 26.1, the establishment and timing of disclosure requirements
(13) Scheduling expert disclosures and whether sequencing of expert disclosures is warranted
(14) Scheduling dispositive motions
(15) Adopting a uniform numbering system for documents and establishing a document depository
(16) Determining whether electronic service of discovery materials and pleadings is warranted
(17) Organizing a master list of contact information for counsel
(18) Determining whether expedited trial proceedings are desired or appropriate
(19) Scheduling further conferences as necessary
(20) Use of technology, videoconferencing and/or teleconferencing
(21) Determination of whether the issues can be resolved by summary judgment, summary trial, trial to the court, jury trial, or some combination thereof
(22) Such other matters as the court or the parties deem appropriate to manage or expedite the case
(b) Meeting of Parties Before Conference. Before the date set by the court for the initial case management conference, all parties who have appeared in the action, or their attorneys, shall meet and confer concerning the matters to be raised at the conference, shall attempt in good faith to reach agreement on as many case management issues as possible, and shall submit a joint report to the court no later than seven (7) days before the initial case management conference. A party who fails to participate in good faith shall be subject to sanctions.
(c) Purpose of Conference. The purpose of the initial case management conference is to identify the essential issues in the litigation and to avoid unnecessary, burdensome or duplicative discovery and other pretrial procedures in the course of preparing for trial of those issues.
(d) Establishing Time Limits. Time limits should be regularly used to expedite major phases of complex civil cases. Time limits should be established early, tailored to the circumstances of each case, firmly and fairly maintained, and accompanied by other methods of sound judicial management. The date of the final pre-trial conference shall be set by the court as early as possible with a trial date to follow within 60 days of the final pre-trial conference.
(e) Commencement of Discovery. Absent an order of the court, or by stipulation of the parties filed with the court, no party may initiate discovery or disclosure in a complex civil case until the court has issued a Case Management Order following the initial case management conference. Ariz. Sup. Ct. R. 57, also calls for CMC. It says Initial case management conference: Within ten (10) days after the time for filing an answer has expired, the hearing officer shall contact the parties and hold a mandatory case management conference for purposes of establishing the discovery schedule, as well as scheduling the hearing on the merits and all other prehearing conferences. Bar counsel and respondent, and respondents attorney, if any, shall appear for the initial case management conference, which may be telephonic.