1. What are your preferred procedures regarding motion practice?
Motions are heard at 8:30 and 1:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. Please send courtesy copies of all motion papers to my chambers. If you don’t send courtesy copies to Judge’s chamber when you file your motion paper with the District Court Administration we will probably not receive your papers prior to your motion being heard by the Court. Courtesy copies may be served by e-mail to the Judge’s law clerks. All proposed findings should be a Word document attached to an e-mail.
Filed copies of all pleadings and motion papers should be two-hole punched at the top of the page. All exhibits should be individually tabbed. Please keep attachments to affidavits as brief as possible (i.e. only include relevant portions of depositions, bills, contracts, etc. unless otherwise requested by the Court.)
2. What are your preferred procedures regarding hearings?
I read all motion papers. Please be on time and keep your remarks to under 10 minutes per side because 30 minutes is the time scheduled for all motion hearings unless otherwise agreed to by the judge. Please abide by the page limits set forth in the District Court rules. Discovery disputes are usually handled informally by letter brief followed by a telephone conference. If the issue requires further hearing a motion time will be selected.
3. What do you expect the attorneys to have ready at the pretrial conference?
The attorneys should be prepared. They should understand both the strengths and weaknesses of their case and be prepared to discuss possible settlement of the case. The parties and representatives of insurance companies should have full settlement authority at the pretrial.
4. At what point do you expect the parties to undertake ADR, if at all?
Mediation shall be prior to any dispositive motion. All parties except those exempt by statute must go to mediation before dispositive motions will be heard.
5. At what point, if any, do you encourage the parties to settle or to exchange settlement offers/demands?
Settlement discussion should begin as soon as possible which means sometime even before the lawsuit is filed in court. The Court will bring up possible settlement at every court appearance. All parties must meaningfully participate in mediation before any dispositive motion will be heard. At any pretrial all parties should be prepared to discuss settlement.
6. Do you require that a person with ultimate authority to settle be present at settlement negotiations?
All parties should attend mediations and pretrials. All persons with full settlement authority must attend. Failure to have the person with full settlement authority present will result in monetary sanctions or an award of attorneys fees to the other side.
7. How do you expect the parties to handle discovery disputes (including calling you for a ruling during a deposition)?
Attorneys must confer with each other and make a good faith attempt to settle all disputes without court intervention. If this does not work, contact the Judge’s clerk to set up a telephone conference. Each party shall submit a letter describing the dispute and their party’s position the discovery issue. All letters must be submitted to the Court at least three days prior to a discovery telephone conference.
No discovery requests shall be made without good reason for the request and a party should not refuse to tender anything arguably relevant unless it’s privileged. Attorney’s fees may be awarded to the other side by any party who causes an unnecessary discovery dispute.
If necessary, a formal hearing will be scheduled or the matter will be referred to a Special Master if the issue is especially complex.
I would not expect attorneys to call me during depositions and will not normally take such calls. Most questions can be answered subject to objection.
8. Do you conduct hearings and motions by phone?
Most motions are heard in the courtroom on the record. Discovery disputes are an exception. They are usually done by telephone conference without a court reporter. The party requesting the telephone conference should initiate the call, join the other parties and then call the judge.
9. Do you have an preference for courtroom decorum?
Counsel shall follow the Rules of Decorum (Rule 2). Cell phones and pagers must be silent and turned off. Counsel shall not have any unnecessary discussion at counsel table when court is in session. Parties and counsel may have water and other beverages at counsel table during court.
10. When, if ever, would you consider issuing sanctions, formal reprimands, holding an attorney in contempt, or reporting an attorney for unethical behavior.
I rarely issue sanctions. Monetary sanctions or an award of attorneys fees may be appropriate in a situation where the scheduling order or other order of the Court is intentionally not complied with. Most times sanctions would be in the form of attorney’s fees for the other attorney’s time.
11. Should attorneys assume you have read the pleadings and motion papers?
Yes, my general policy is to have read all motions papers. My office will inform you if that is not the case. Both sides should anticipate questions from the Court on all motions.
12. What is your practice with granting continuances? Under what circumstances, would you consider granting one?
Trial continuances or changes in the scheduling order are rarely granted even if both parties agree. Continuances on motions are usually granted especially when both parties agree. I will modify discovery deadlines if it does not change a case’s trial block. Day certains are rarely given except in medical malpractice cases.
Trial blocks are noted on a per-block basis. I will rarely agree to hear a dispositive motion less than 90 days from the start of the scheduled trial block. I will also not continue a trial block for purposes of hearing dispositive motions absent good cause.
My law clerks are always available to schedule motions and answer scheduling questions but cannot give legal advice to pro se parties.
The Court issues a detailed Trial Order for both jury and Court trials. This order requires submission of trial materials prior to the commencement of a civil block.
13. Under what circumstances do you accept ex parte communications from counsel? Do you consider an attorney’s communication with your clerk potential ex parte communication?
Ex parte communications are allowed only as permitted by the rules (i.e. to schedule or cancel hearings, to confirm a hearing, to find out the status of trial setting and similar matters relating to housekeeping issues). No ex parte communications are permitted regarding the merits of the case. Communications with the clerk are communications with the Court.
14. What preferences do you have for jury trials? How do you prefer voir dire to be conducted?
Exhibits should be Bates stamped, pre-marked, listed on a typed exhibit list and placed in a 3-ring binder. Also provide a list of witnesses and all proposed jury instructions. Jury instructions should be filed with District Court and a copy sent as a Word document attached to an e-mail. Jury instructions should be sent full edited as the parties wish them to go to the jury with a typed list of all JIG numbers and titles attached to the front.
I don’t have any strong feelings about voir dire. The Court will have an informal discussion on the day of trial about courtroom procedures and requests the parties prepare a non-argumentative statement of the case that can be agreed to by both parties.
In Court trial please provide written opening statement and written closing argument. Proposed findings should also be submitted before a Court trial.
15. How are emergency issue handled?
My law clerk will attempt to schedule emergency issues as quickly as my schedule permits depending on my court assignment and physical location. T.R.O.’s will be heard as soon as possible but with regard to all parties availability.
My general policy is not to hear matters ex parte, even in emergency circumstances where contact information is available for the other party. If such a request is granted, the order would be of very limited duration until a hearing with all parties can be held.