What is a First Setting?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

When we watch courtroom shows on TV, we rarely see the mundane things that go on behind the scenes. Understandably, they skip right to the exciting parts like finding the murder weapon, or intense questioning of the witnesses while they are on the witness stand.

However, a lot of little steps have to occur before we get to a trial of a case.

One thing is the setting of the case itself. Courts are always busy and because they are, they will set multiple cases for trial on the same day. Why do they do that? Because so many cases settle or get worked out before trial, if they only set one case a day, and it settles, then the court has wasted a day doing nothing when they could have been having a trial.

The court will have cases set for a first setting, second setting, or even third setting. What that means is that the first setting case on a particular day will go to trial first. If it settles, the second setting case will go to trial. If the first and second cases both settle, then the third case will go to trial. However, if the first case ends up going to trial, then the second and third cases will get bumped off that day and moved to a different date for a trial.

So, if you want to make extra sure that your case proceeds to trial, you want it to be set as the first setting for trial on a certain date.

Another way to use the term, “first setting,” is to describe how many times a case has been set for trial. For example, trials are rescheduled often. Judges do not like resetting cases and want them to be tried and over with. However, cases get reset all of the time. If a lawyer asks that the trial for a case be reset, then the Judge may want to know how many times it has been rescheduled before he agrees to do so. If the case is set for trial for the first time, or a “first setting,” then the judge is usually more inclined to reset the case if requested to do so.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.