Judge: Armen Tamzarian, Case: 19STCV15834, Date: 2023-03-28 Tentative Ruling

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Case Number: 19STCV15834    Hearing Date: March 28, 2023    Dept: 52

Plaintiff Richard Owens’s Motion to Continue Trial

Plaintiff Richard Owens moves to continue the trial set for April 7, 2023, by 120 days.  “The court may grant a continuance only on an affirmative showing of good cause requiring” it.  (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c).)  “A party’s excused inability to obtain essential testimony, documents, or other material evidence despite diligent efforts” indicates good cause.  (Rule 3.1332(c)(6).)

Plaintiff moves to continue the trial to obtain essential evidence in this civil rights action against the police: video footage of the incident and depositions of the arresting officers.  Plaintiff, however, does not show he made diligent efforts to conduct discovery and prepare for trial.  The failure of the parties and their counsel to diligently prepare for trial is not good cause to continue the trial.  (Kuhland v. Sedgwick (1860) 17 Cal. 123, 128 [“The absence of evidence is no cause for a continuance, unless reasonable diligence has been used to procure it”]; People v. Grant (1988) 45 Cal.3d 829, 844 [a party’s failure to diligently prepare for trial is not good cause for a continuance].)

Plaintiff argues defendant City of Los Angeles agreed to produce body camera videos, but only after entry of a protective order.  Plaintiff’s counsel states, “Defendant has thus had over five months to propose a protective order.”  (Tabone Decl., ¶ 6.)  Nothing stopped plaintiff from proposing a protective order.  This court has a model protective order.  Plaintiff also argues defendant repeatedly delayed the depositions.  Plaintiff could have sought to compel the depositions.

Despite plaintiff’s lack of diligence, the court will exercise its discretion to continue the trial.  Defendant shows no significant prejudice resulting from this continuance.  “[T]he interests of justice are best served by a continuance.”  (Rule 3.1332(d)(10).)  In this action, plaintiff alleges police officers used excessive force against him.  A fair disposition of this case requires discovery of video footage of the incident and deposing the arresting officers.  This evidence is as essential as can be.  Plaintiff must exercise diligence to obtain that evidence before the continued trial date. 

Plaintiff Richard Owens’s motion to continue trial is granted. 

The court hereby continues the final status conference to July 17, 2023, at 9:00 a.m.  The court hereby continues the trial from April 7, 2023, to August 2, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.