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How to write a letter for not being able to attend court

Updated November 21, 2016

In general, it is very important to appear at all court dates to which you are assigned on time and ready for trial. However, life happens and sometimes you will need to inform the court that you cannot attend the date you have been assigned. The best and most formal way to do this is by writing a letter to the court. You must write the letter as far in advance as possible, to avoid receiving a witness summons or other penalty.

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  1. Write your address and the date in the upper-right hand corner -- or right-align them if typing.

  2. Align the text to the left, or return to the left margin. Write the recipient's name, with his title as used on any correspondence you have received from the court -- for example, "Mr. David Smith, Clerk of Court" or "The Honorable David Smith." Under this, write the name of the court and its address.

  3. Write "Dear Judge Smith," or "Dear Sir/Madam."

  4. Write your name, followed by the case type and number, the court name and the current hearing date.

  5. Write "In reference to the above matter:"

  6. Write "My name is listed for the Alphabet City Court on February 23, 2014," replacing the details with your own.

  7. Write a paragraph that begins with "I request that the hearing on that date be adjourned because..." and then outlines your reasons. Include details, such as any notes from doctors, employers and the like.

  8. If desired, write another paragraph that begins with "When relisting the case, I ask that you kindly avoid the following inconvenient dates:" and then lists any other dates that you cannot attend court.

  9. Add "Please notify me with the adjournment date. If the Court requires any further details, please do not hesitate to contact me."

  10. Close with "Sincerely" or "Faithfully yours," and then sign and print your name. If you are typing, leave several lines between the closing salutation and your name, then print the letter and sign between them.

  11. Tip

    Formal letters should generally be typed and printed on good-quality paper, though neat handwriting is acceptable.

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About the Author

Jennifer Gigantino has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been published in various venues ranging from the literary magazine "Kill Author" to the rehabilitation website Soberplace. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and digital media from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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