If you are facing felony charges in the Mohave County Superior Court, one of the pretrial hearings your criminal case will be scheduled for is called an Omnibus Hearing. Typically an Omnibus Hearing is scheduled thirty to sixty days after an Arraignment and criminal proceedings begin in the Superior Court. You may be asking yourself, “What the is a Omnibus Hearing?”
The Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Local Rules of Practice for the Mohave County Superior Court establish the procedures for pretrial hearings in criminal cases. Rule CR-1 states that “(p)re-trial hearings leading to the setting of a trial date shall consist of an Arraignment, Case Management Conference, Omnibus Hearing and a Final Management Conference.” The rule further states how an Omnibus Hearing is to be conducted;
Counsel shall provide the Court with a completed Omnibus Hearing Form prior to the Omnibus Hearing. The Court shall discuss all issues raised by the parties as set out in the Omnibus Hearing Form. The Court may then set motion deadlines, schedule evidentiary hearings or oral arguments as necessary or set the matter for trial. If the matter is set for Trial, the Court shall schedule a Final Management Conference no less than five court days prior to the trial.
Now let's examine these issues in further detail.
Disclosure Issues: The Case Management is scheduled early after an Arraignment to allows the Court to monitor a number of deadlines under the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. One of the first deadlines is the State's obligation for Disclosure pursuant to Rule 15.1 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. The State is required prior to the Case Management Hearing to provide initial disclosure to the defense. The State's prosecutor must disclose all reports “in the possession of the attorney filing the charge at the time of filing”. These reports include all existing original and supplemental reports prepared by the law enforcement agency investigating the crime and the names of all experts or scientific tests that have been completed. Ariz. R. Crim Pro. 15.1(3)&(4).
The Defendant also has similar discovery obligations. The Defense must provide to the State a written notice of defenses that will be presented at trial. These defenses include such things as alibi, insanity, self-defense, defense of others, entrapment, mistaken identity and good character. A Defendant must also list all witnesses which are anticipated to testify on the Defendant's behalf and list as to which defense the witness will testify to. This disclosure is required ten days after the State makes its initial Rule 15.1 disclosure. Ariz. R. Crim Pro 15.2.
Since all these deadlines occur close in time after the Arraignment, the Case Management Hearing's helps the Court determine that discovery is being conducted by all the parties. The disclosure process ensures that the Defendant is aware of the evidence against him or her in the criminal case. If there are issues with discovery, the parties will advise the Court of them.
Plea Offer: Most criminal cases are resolved by plea agreements. Over 90% of criminal cases are usually settled with some type of stipulated guilty plea. A change of plea proceeding avoids the necessity of having a case going to trial. While the decision to make a plea agreement is at the sole discretion of the prosecutor, it is common practice by the State to make plea offers in most criminal cases regardless of the charges.
The Court will always advise a Defendant that it takes no position on whether a plea offer is made by the State. Given the limited resources and logistics involved in scheduling a criminal case for Trial, the Court does have an incentive to seek what is called “judicial economy” to resolve litigation. The Case Management Hearing allows the Court to facilitate any type of settlement discussions by determining if the parties are aware of any pending plea offers or if the Court needs to explain to the Defendant the terms of any potential plea offer or understand the range of sentences in a case.
Any Known Motions or Pre-Trial Issues: The Case Management Hearing also allows the Court to address any other issues that needs immediate attention. Another deadline that soon occurs after the Arraignment is the ability to challenge the Grand Jury Proceedings. A Defendant only has twenty days after the Arraignment or after the filing of the Official Grand Jury Transcripts to file such a motion to challenge the proceedings that resulted in the criminal indictment. A Case Management Hearing is usually conducted near this deadline, so discussion about scheduling oral arguments on such a motion might be addressed. Even though Motions to Challenge a Grand Jury Proceeding are allowed under the rules, these type of Motion are not typically filed in most cases.
What is more common is the Court conducting oral arguments on Motions to Redetermine Release Conditions. A Defendant as a matter of right can request a Judge to re-evaluate the release conditions after having their case transferred from another Court. This often occurs when a case is transferred from the Justice to the Superior Court. These type of motions must be heard at the “earliest possible time, especially when the defendant is in custody” Local Rules of Practice for the Mohave County Superior Court CR-2(A). Often the Case Management Hearing is the first and most convenient opportunity for the parties to argue release conditions to the newly assigned Judge in the Superior Court. This type of hearing will often have the most significant impact on a Defendant in a criminal case.
These are the most typical issues that are discussed at an Omnibus Hearing. If you have any questions about these type of issues in your criminal case always seek the advise of an attorney or legal counsel.
The Law Office of Shawn B. Hamp is focused to defending DUI, Drug & criminal charges in Arizona, within Northwestern Arizona and Mohave County including the cities of Kingman, Bullhead City, and Lake Havasu City Arizona.
This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstances.