A tentative ruling is given to the parties by the trial court judge prior to the hearing on the parties’ motion. It gives the parties an idea of how the judge is considering ruling on the motion before hearing oral argument. The tentative ruling is often, but not always, the judge’s final ruling.
Tentative rulings are useful tools for litigators. For example, reading your judge’s prior tentative rulings can give you insight into how your judge rules on the key issues in your case, what legal authority your judge prefers, and can help you identify your judge’s pet peeves. Additionally, you can use your judge’s previous tentative rulings to research opposing parties, allowing you to anticipate their next moves based on how they’ve litigated cases in the past.
rulings.law helps access to justice. Every day, state court judges post their tentative rulings online where the general public can access them for free. But old rulings quickly disappear and are replaced by new ones. Until now, there was no place where people could read their judge’s past rulings, except for websites that charge money for access. rulings.law provides past tentative rulings to everyone for free. It levels the playing field between litigants who can afford to pay to see these rulings, and those who cannot.
rulings.law has been collecting tentative rulings daily since January 2019 and it’s constantly growing. Its focus is not on going as far back as possible, but instead on moving forward. As judges gain experience, their views continue to evolve. What your judge thought of a particular issue years ago is not as important as what your judge thinks of that same issue now.
Not all judges post their tentative rulings online. But, as the court system continues to embrace technology, it is our hope that all judges will eventually do so. rulings.law is currently providing rulings for the trial courts of Los Angeles County, but will expand to include more counties. Keep checking back to see if your judge has been added to rulings.law.