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Arrival of Plaintiff After Start Time of Trial Grounds for Dismissal of Suit
Description Tenant contesting eviction from public housing for drug violation demanded jury trial. When she failed to appear at the scheduled start time, after counsel had been warned the previous day when she failed to show, defendant was awarded judgment. Tenant’s appearance a few minutes later held lack of due diligence. Decision of trial judge upheld by appeals court.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Dismissal, Diligence, Sanction
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Truitt was ordered evicted from public housing for drug-related criminal activity in her public housing unit. She contested the eviction and demanded a jury trial. Truitt failed to appear on the day for voir dire and jury selection. The judge warned her counsel that Truitt must be present for the start of the trial the next day at 10 a.m. When Truitt was not present and counsel admitted he did not know where she was, the judge entered judgment for the Housing Authority. Truitt appeared a few minutes later. Her counsel requested the trial resume; the judge refused. Truitt appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "The trial court may enter a default judgment against a defendant who fails to appear and defend at trial. Although this court has held that the striking of defensive pleadings and the entry of default judgment ‘is a harsh sanction,’ we also acknowledge the ‘inherent power of the trial court who is charged with the efficient clearing of cases upon the court’s docket.’"
Citation Truitt v. Housing Authority of Augusta, — S.E.2d — (1998 WL 640610, Ct. App., Ga.)
507 S. E. 2d 781 (Ct. App., GA., 1998)

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