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Seeking Stay or Continuance for Medical Reasons

by Neil Garfield | November 16, 2018

The bottom line is don’t do that unless your situation is compelling. Don’t assert medical conflicts when the conflict could easily be resolved. Filing such a motion without a sworn affidavit and supporting documentation is the same as not filing it at all.

Medical reasons can be sufficient to continue court hearings but try not to test the limits of the patience of the judge — on a matter as small as this.

Medical reasons can be the foundation for delay but it is within the sole discretion of the court. I have never heard of a judge being reversed for ruling either way. There might be such cases, but there is usually some exigent fact that trumps the discretion of the court. So you need to be right, but more than that you need to be persuasive. And in order to be persuasive you need to start with being reasonable.

So you say you need a continuance for 90 days. That is more like a temporary stay of the proceedings than it is a continuance. Judges hate that because they don’t want a mark on their record for not moving cases along. The longer the period you seek the more the burden is on you to show that it is absolutely necessary and there is no other way.

Whatever period of time you select, it must be based on facts.

  1. That you can’t appear right now because you are ill and you have a projected date of recovery.
  2. That you are the caretaker of someone who is ill and you have a projected date on which you will have made other arrangements.
  3. That you are forced to ask for the temporary continuance or stay rather than filing the motion for purposes of being dilatory or just delaying the inevitable.
  4. That you have meritorious claims and defenses and the need to conduct discovery and further investigation that would hampered if you were forced to do so now.
  5. The motion should be phrased as personal and show you are in distress without being melodramatic. While you are under no obligation to disclose your particular medical condition or the condition of the person for whom you give care, you must be specific enough so that you are credible when you say that you really can’t do anything now but you will be able to later.
  6. If you have no end date that you seem sure about then you would need to appoint a person who can act in your stead. So you would need a lawyer to perhaps create a receivership.
  7. In all events the affidavit you submit must be truthful and accurate.
  8. Be respectful to the court. You don’t demand anything — instead you urgently request it. And be able to convey the facts supporting the urgency. It must be real. Otherwise the very filing of the motion will undermine the credibility future proffers of facts or legal arguments.
  9. Check your rules of civil procedure and local rules on such filings. They might need a specific title. The more you are following rules and not seeking an exception to them, the more credible will be your argument.

 

 

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