No landlord wants an eviction case to drag on, since they’re not getting paid. Naturally, they often ask, “Can we finish the case on the first court date?” If the Tenant does not appear, then we can finish the case on the first court date and obtain a default judgment. (This assumes that you have a live witness that is prepared to testify.)
If the Tenant does appear, then we cannot finish the case on the first court date. The local rules of Shelby County state that either party is entitled to a continuance (or “reset”) on the initial court date. This means that even if we show up and are ready to go forward, if the Tenant is present, he or she can say, “I’d like to have a continuance,” and that’s all that’s going to happen on that day. (Of course, we are entitled to a continuance also, so it cuts both ways.)
The continuance in an eviction case is much shorter than in other cases, and the follow-up court date (set for trial) will likely be between seven to fourteen days later. In cases where the Tenant has already abandoned the property, the court may set the case out further since possession of the property is no longer an urgent issue.
Many Landlords ask me to appear as their legal representative on the initial court date and schedule the matter for trial without their presence. In this way, I can save them from the hassle of appearing twice. After I appear for the first setting, I can call them and say, “Here is the court date that you (or your witness) must appear for, because the case is actually going to go forward on that day.”
Please do not hesitate to call if you have additional questions about this process and are seeking legal representation for a Memphis eviction.