Here is what Code of Civil Procedure section 583.130 says: “It is the policy of the state that a plaintiff shall proceed with reasonable diligence in the prosecution of an action but that all parties shall cooperate in bringing the action to trial or other disposition.” That is not complicated language. No jury instruction defining any of its terms would be necessary if we were submitting it to a panel of non-lawyers. The policy of the state is that the parties to a lawsuit “shall cooperate.” Period. Full stop.
Yet the principle the section dictates has somehow become the Marie Celeste of California law – a ghost ship reported by a few hardy souls but doubted by most people familiar with the area in which it’s been reported. The section’s adjuration to civility and cooperation “is a custom, More honor'd in the breach than the observance.” In this case, we deal here with more evidence that our profession has come unmoored from its honorable commitment to the ideal expressed in section 583.130, and – in keeping with what has become an unfortunate tradition in California appellate law – we urge a return to the professionalism it represents.