Orders To Show Cause

August 12, 2023


I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment broker. This article is my opinion, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. If you need legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

An Order to Show Cause (OSC) is a court procedure where one side requests that a court make a specific decision on their proposed order. OSCs are usually worded in an indirect way, for example “show why a judgment debtor should not have to show their paycheck stubs to the judgment creditor”. Even if the judgment creditor simply wanted to know the debtor’s employer, the captions on OSC orders are usually worded indirectly.

In California, generally, if the judgment debtor shows up at the debtor’s examination without the documents, the debtor could then be served personally at the examination with a motion to compel (and OSC regarding Contempt asking for a warrant of commitment as per CCPs 1211 and 1212). The court has the power to imprison a contemnor for 5 days (CCP 1218) and this law also provides for costs per occurrence of contempt, so each document not produced or each question not answered is a separate contempt citation.

The indirect word pattern of “show why not” is directed to the other party. If they do not prove to the court why not, the requester’s proposed order is usually granted. OSC proceedings are simpler and shorter than more substantial court hearings, as the scope of what is being considered is very narrow.

Show cause motions might be in the form of an attempt to file a MOTION TO SHOW CAUSE WHY XXXXX SHOULD NOT BE NAMED AS AN ADDITIONAL JUDGMENT DEBTOR. It is a Motion, not a lawsuit.

If you are not an attorney, before you try this the first time at a court, find out which judge you are going to appear in front of, and go to a court session where that judge is presiding, and watch and listen to how they handle OSC situations.

Sometimes, the clerk or the judge in that courtroom has some special “rule” that may not even be on books. Some judges want you to sit there silently while they read your moving papers, others want you to begin speaking immediately. Also, if you notice the judge is irrational and is extra debtor friendly, you might consider filing a peremptory challenge, so that you do not have to appear in front of his/her highness.

OSC paperwork sets, that must be served on the other side, must include all court papers, the court action requested, and the time, date, and the address of the court hearing. Sometimes an OSC hearing is for a request that one side stop an activity, pending the decision of another future court hearing.

OSCs must have at least one Affidavit in Support, and can also include documents that support the requested decision of the court. An Affidavit is a sworn statement or signature made before a court clerk or a notary public. The Affidavit explains to the court why your request should be granted. You can also include affidavits from other people, to help show the court the merits of your request.

All affidavits and court-submitted papers, must be served on all parties. The party served with your OSC request, can respond by preparing papers to document their opposition to your motion, with their affidavit, have them served on you, and show up at the hearing.

The court or your local law library, may have a template or example of an OSC affidavit, or you can make your own. In an Affidavit in Support, you should include:

1) Your name, capacity, and relationship to the case.

2) What you are requesting the court to decide.

3) The reason you are making the request.

4) The facts that support your request, and reference to any copies of attached documents relevant to your case.

5) Whether you have ever made this kind of request before.

After you have completed an Affidavit, do not sign it until you are at a notary public, or in front of a court clerk (who has verified that they can be a court-approved witness to your signature). After the Affidavit is signed and notarized, it should be attached to the OSC order with either paper clips or a staple, ask your court clerk.

Make sure you have several copies of all your paperwork because some courts require several copies, and a copy must be served on the other party. What happens next, depends on which court you are at.

Most of the time, the court clerk takes your submitted paperwork and has a judge sign it, then they put it on the court calendar. Sometimes you must wait days or longer for the judge’s signature. Bring a self-addressed stamped envelope for the court.

After the judge has signed your OSC order, it must be served on the other party. Before you have it served, make a few copies, because the OSC with a judge’s signature, is the one that counts.

If you want to oppose a proposed OSC order, you must submit opposition papers, and serve them on the other parties. If you want the court to decide something not listed in the original OSC, that is called a cross-motion, and sometimes those are heard at the same date as the original OSC hearing.

Sometimes the judge will make their decision on the OSC hearing right away, other times the court will mail you their decision later. For this reason, always include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your court papers.

After the court’s decision is entered by the clerk of the court, the winning party must serve a copy of the OSC order on the other party. OSC orders may be appealed, however you must have a meritorious reason and proof to win an appeal.

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