Like everyone else, a judge has a boss and is evaluated partially based how they handle their docket. “The docket” simply means the full list of cases that the judge has to consider. A judge has great leeway in how they structure the flow of cases in their courthouse, but the less cases lingering on the docket the better. It forces both the State’s Attorneys Office and Defense Counsel to more efficiently marshal their evidence.
When you are brought before the judge the first time your case is on the regular docket, which means your case was recently added to the list of cases in a courthouse. After a while the judge wants to see some progress, otherwise that case list just grows and grows.
So how do you get lawyers moving? Get them closer to trial.
That is what the pre-trial docket is, the judge’s signal that the case is getting too old and some discussion concerning resolution should be taking place. Getting a case on the pretrial docket starts this process.
Sometimes this is followed up by a judicial pre-trial, where a judge, who will not try the case, acts a mediator to see if a plea can be reached.
If you are unable to resolve the charges, your case will be placed on the jury list and you are going to trial.