What Is a Minute Order?

Hossein Berenji, Jun 01, 2022

A minute order is a fancy legal term for describing a court’s answer to a party’s motion. Sometimes minute orders are even issued while you’re in the courtroom. Often prepared by the judge’s clerk, they’re usually extremely brief, simply approving or denying a motion made by either party.

Minute orders do not have to be signed by the judge. Because the court prepares them — unlike many orders which are actually drafted by one of the party’s attorneys — minute orders are automatically part of the court file.

Ruling vs. Outcome

Whenever people hear about a court order, they often think of it as being the court’s final decision or the case’s outcome. But that’s actually a slight misconception.

A minute order covers only a specific question within the case. For example, if you’re getting a divorce and you have a minor child, you may petition the court to grant you primary custody of your child at the start of your divorce. The court could issue a minute order denying your petition. You can still bring up the issue of custody later, but the court is telling you that right now isn’t the time for the judge to decide on this issue.

In this instance, a judge could say that your petition was denied. The judge’s clerk would then write up a brief order and include it in your case file. The judge doesn’t need to sign it because the court created the document. While minute orders can be exceptionally brief and can seem informal, be aware that minute orders have the same full force and effect as any other order issued by a court.

Getting a Copy of Your Minute Order

Things happen fast in courtrooms. You may have missed what the judge said and may be unsure of what you need to do to follow the judge’s order. The best way to figure this out is to get a copy of the minute order.

The judge’s clerk prepares some minute orders in the courtroom. Other times, a judge will direct one party to submit an order in a day or two that may contain more details about why the judge ruled the way they did.

In either case, as a party to the proceedings, you’re entitled to receive a copy of the order. If you need one quickly, you can request a copy of the minute order online. You can also go back to the courthouse a few days after the judge issued the minute order to get a physical copy. It’s best to wait at least a couple of days so the judge’s clerk can get the file back to the recording clerk, which is where you go to get a copy of any documents in the file.

What if the Clerk Gets a Minute Order Wrong?

Because clerks are doing work while in the courtroom that’s not always related to what’s happening in your case, they may mishear the judge or create a minute order that contains a mistake. But because a minute order is still an order of the court, you have to follow it. What do you do?

You or your lawyer should immediately file a motion to review the order for accuracy. In most courtrooms today, there are stenographers taking down every word said or recording devices keeping an audio record of everything that happens in the courtroom. When you file a motion to review the minute order’s accuracy, you’re asking the court to review the audio file to ensure the clerk got it right. If they didn’t, the audio file would tell the judge how to modify the order.

It’s important that you take swift action on this because, according to the California Rules of Court, you only have limited time to request the judge review the minute order. Also, audio files in courtrooms are often overwritten just days after they are recorded, so the sooner you act, the more likely you are to have a positive outcome.

Contact a Lawyer Today if You Have Questions

Understanding everything that’s happening in the courtroom and what you need to do after a judge issues an order is confusing. That’s why it’s vital that you partner with an experienced lawyer to help you navigate your case and work toward a suitable outcome.

Contact Berenji & Associates today to get the experience you can trust.

If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates today to know how we can assist you.

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