1. What are your expectations of attorneys (both defense and state) at arraignment?
Be on time. If private attorney, do not wait until the case is called to file your certificate of representation. Try to have the next court date set up with the prosecutor and clerk before the calendar starts.
2. What do you see as the bench’s role in settlement at the pretrial stage?
If counsel cannot resolve the case at pretrial, I require the parties to discuss the case with me before setting a trial date. I think the judge’s role at that point is to suggest alternatives that might not have been discussed to see if the parties can still settle.
3. If so, what limitations do you place on ex parte contacts with your staff?
Discussion of any case should be limited to scheduling and other administrative matters. Even then, I prefer contact by email with my clerk with the other parties copied on the email. Saves a lot of phone calls to reschedule an appearance.
4. When a matter is assigned to you for trial, do you attempt to facilitate settlement before beginning trial?
Yes, for now. When the new blocking system goes into effect, I hope to limit settlement discussions to the pretrial and limit trial dates to asking whether it is a plea, dismissal or trial without further discussion.
5. When in trial, what hours do you normally use for the trial itself (including breaks and lunch recesses)?
9:00 to 10:30, 10:50 to 12:00, 1:30 to 3:00, 3:20 to 4:30. Break times may vary based on witness examination and availability, but the 4:30 deadline will be adhered to fairly rigidly because of jurors’ and participants’ bus schedules, day care, etc.
6. What policies do you have concerning weapons, firearms and ammunition exhibits in the courtroom?
I follow the Potentially Hazardous Exhibit Policy adopted by the Judicial Council.
It reads, in part:
The following procedures have been developed to minimize exposure and potential injury of District Court employees and others involved in judicial proceedings related to evidence admission and handling.
Potentially Hazardous Substances and Sharps
Potentially hazardous substances must be contained and/or stored in an approved container and/or storage bag, as outlined below, strong enough to prevent breakage and contain spillage. The outside of the container and/or storage bag must:
clearly identify the contents
be marked with appropriate hazardous warnings (e.g. corrosive,toxic) or labeled with a biohazard label, or both; and
be labeled as required by city, state and federal regulations.
Bloodied clothing must be dry and shall be submitted in a sealed wrapping or package that is properly marked and labeled.
Blood vials must be submitted in approved secondary containers that are properly marked and labeled.
Contaminated sharps (hypodermic needles, razors, knives, etc.) must be submitted with protective coverings or within protective containers. Examples include sheathed knives and capped needles placed in sealed evidence bags. Contaminated sharps that cannot be sheathed or capped shall be enclosed in sealed, puncture-resistant containers.
All drugs/narcotics are to be submitted in clear heavy-duty plastic bags or other types of transparent non-breakable containers. The access point of the bag or other container must be completely sealed with exhibit tape and properly marked and labeled.
Guns & Ammunition
All live ammunition is to be submitted to the Court in labeled and sealed envelopes.
Firearms must have all ammunition removed prior to submission to the Court. When submitted, the firearm must be in a condition that will not allow the trigger to operate. For example, firearms must have bolts removed and taped securely to the side or locked to the rear, cylinders swung out, loading gates open, or slides or breeches locked open.
Flammable, Explosive, & Reactive Materials
Flammable, explosive and reactive materials (e.g., black powder, or other explosive or highly reactive materials, excluding ammunition) shall be rendered non-explosive and/or non-reactive prior to submittal to the court.
Other Potentially Hazardous Substances
If any object has the potential of being a hazardous substance, it must be properly sealed, labeled and marked as such.
Improperly submitted evidence
Evidence that does not meet District Court containment specifications for evidence submission may not be accepted. In order to accommodate the needs of the court, a vendor under contract with the court may be contacted to contain or otherwise modify evidence to meet evidence requirements prior to submission to the court. In such instances a standard minimum fee of $300 plus the cost of the containment will be charged to the submitting party.
7. What policies do you have concerning drugs and other sensitive exhibits in the courtroom?
Sensitive or sensational photos will be kept by the clerk and only available with express permission from the bench.
8. Do you have any other specific policies concerning exhibits?
9. When do you discuss proposed jury instructions with attorneys?
I ask for proposed instructions after the jury is sworn, but we hold off the instruction conference after both sides have rested.
10. What are your policies concerning jury sequestration?
Only will consider for homicide cases or if counsel can provide a compelling reason to sequester.
11. Do you have any specific policies or practices concerning pre-sentence investigations or sentencing?
I strongly discourage pre-plea investigations and will not order them unless the defendant will openly and honestly discuss his or her involvement in the offense. Pre-pleas for defendants who deny guilt are a waste of time.
Pre-sentence investigations will be ordered for person felonies, but only a sentencing worksheet for property and drug felonies. If counsel has a good reason to request a PSI on a property and drug felony, I will order it.
For misdemeanors, PSI’s will be ordered for all domestics and all DWI’s except first-time DWI’s with a test under 0.20.
I generally impose the mandatory minimum fine and surcharges but will allow satisfaction of the fine and surcharge with Sentence to Service if the defendant is indigent or payment would cause extreme hardship. I will give time to pay fines and surcharges, but I do not give extensions on payment deadlines once they are entered as part of the sentence.
I do NOT get involved in waiver of any administrative correctional fees (Work release fees, EHM fees, supervision fees, UA fees, DWI course fees, etc.). All requests to waive or reduce those fees should be directed to DOCC staff as those fees are not a part of the sentence.
Be on time. Sentencings are scheduled around trials and other calendars.
All statements at sentencing (victim impact statements, statements on behalf of a defendant, etc.) should be directed to the Court. Any attempt to address the defendant, counsel or audience members directly will be quickly cut off and the speaker may be subject to further sanction.