A Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6 peremptory challenge in California is the topic of this article. A peremptory challenge in California is authorized and governed by the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6 and may be used to disqualify any judge, court commissioner, or court referee whom an attorney or party has reason to believe is prejudiced against them or their interests. Filing a peremptory challenge against a judicial officer is known in the legal profession as dinging or papering a judge.
Any peremptory challenge must be filed and served within the time limits specified in section 170.6 and only one peremptory challenge may be filed by any attorney or party pursuant to section 170.6. Anyone considering filing a peremptory challenge should carefully review the code as there are various time limits that may apply.
Failing to timely file peremptory challenge can result in an attorney or party having to have their trial or hearing heard by a judicial officer whom they feel is prejudiced against them or their interests. It is common knowledge in the legal profession in California and elsewhere that there are certain judicial officers in local courts who have a bad reputation among the local attorneys and litigants.
Attorneys or parties involved in litigation in California should attempt to determine which judicial officers have a bad reputation in the legal community and are challenged on a regular basis.
The use of such websites as http://www.gavelbangers.com and similar websites can prove very useful particularly if the comments on a judicial officer are predominantly negative. A search on Google using the phrase ratings of judges or similar words will turn up more websites.
It should be noted that a California Court of Appeal has stated that the time to file a Section 170.6 challenge does not commence when defendant makes a special appearance to contest the court’s jurisdiction such as a motion to quash service of a summons but instead begins only when a defendant makes their first general appearance in the action. A defendant has the option to peremptorily challenge the judge scheduled to hear the motion to quash but a defendant is not required to do so.
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Some of the larger counties in California have a local form which can be used for the peremptory challenge although smaller counties may not.