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Clients often ask me how early they should appear for court proceedings. In Hampden and Hampshire Counties, where I practice, the clerks tell defendants to appear at 8:30am, no matter what type of criminal hearing is scheduled.

However, many (if not most) judges do not take the bench until at least 9am. There are also a good number of judges who wait until nearly 10am to begin proceedings.

So I understandable why defendants, who often have numerous pretrial hearings to attend, become annoyed and start asking if they can appear later than 8:30am

Nevertheless, I advise all of my clients to appear at the designated time (8:30am) and simply anticipate waiting for the judge.

If you are not present when the court calls your name, the prosecutor can (and often will) ask the judge to issue a warrant for your arrest. If the judge grants the order, the default and the warrant will go on your criminal record, even if you appear later that day and the warrant is canceled.

One last thing to keep in mind, there is no specific order for calling cases in Massachusetts courts. It’s up to the judge and/or the clerk how matters will be heard.

For example, I practice in one court where defendants are called in alphabetical order. Another court that I frequent calls defendants in the order of the attorneys who represent them. For instance, if I have four criminal defendants on one particular day, the clerk will call those four defendants one after another.