Trial Preference in Civil Cases Based on Felony Conduct

California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) section 36 provides a mechanism for certain civil litigants – the elderly, minors  age 14 or younger bringing a wrongful death action, or the terminally ill – to have the court schedule their trial within 120 days. Janssen Malloy LLP partner Michael Crowley previously wrote about the procedure here.

A lesser known provision of that same code, CCP section 37, provides that, “(a) A civil action shall be entitled to preference, if the action is one in which the plaintiff is seeking damages which were alleged to have been caused by the defendant during the commission of a felony offense for which the defendant has been criminally convicted. (b) The court shall endeavor to try the action within 120 days of the grant of preference.”

Janssen Malloy LLP commonly represents plaintiffs whose injuries were caused by defendants whose criminal cases resulted in felony convictions. Often this involves a motor vehicle accident in which the defendant driver was operating his or her vehicle while under the influence, injuring others. In that case, so long as the District Attorney secures a felony rather than misdemeanor conviction, the injured person or persons in the civil case may request an expedited trial setting.