Tentative Rulings: A Perspective From The Trial Court Trenches
By Judge Sunil R. Kulkarni
The Hon. Sunil R. Kulkarni is a civil case manager judge on the Santa Clara County Superior Court. He handles law and motion, case management, and settlement calendars.
As a civil law and motion judge in superior court, tentative rulings are the bane of my existence. Ten to 12 orders on knotty legal and factual issues are due early Monday afternoon for a Tuesday-morning calendar. Then again on early Wednesday afternoon for a Thursday-morning calendar. And so on and so on every week until the heat death of the universe. And this doesn’t even account for necessary reconsideration and modifications to tentative rulings after oral argument.
But tentative rulings are also my salvation. They force me to think about issues before the hearing, which permits me to ask better questions of counsel. Tentative rulings also encourage counsel to focus their limited argument time on critical and dispositive issues.