1. What are your preferred procedures regarding motion practice?
We have no unusual procedures for motion practice. Following Rule 115 of the General Rules of Practice for motions, along with our standard pretrial order, is enough.
We issue a pretrial order in every case. A sample pretrial order is attached. There are a few aspects of the order that attorneys tend to overlook. First, although mundane, our order asks that you two-hole punch the original paper that you file with the Court. Over time, with hundreds of civil cases, this saves us an immense amount of time. Second, sending a courtesy copy of your brief to our chambers will make up for occasional delays in the court-filing mailroom. This is especially true for reply briefs, which occasionally arrive in our chambers after the hearing is over. Where possible and appropriate, we will rule from the bench on motions at the hearing; not having the entire record in hand forces us to delay a ruling that the parties would rather have sooner than later. Please make sure that we get in a timely way what you have worked so hard to write. Finally, while one courtesy copy of any briefs is appreciated, we do not need an extra courtesy copy of supporting affidavits or exhibits. We will read the originals. Please don’t spend time or money making extra copies of anything other than briefs.
2. What are your preferred procedures regarding hearings?
We have no preferred procedures. Where the time limits in Rule 115 are insufficient to meet an emergency, send us a letter, e-mail, or call. We usually allot up to an hour for a summary judgment motion hearing and 15 to 30 minutes for discovery or routine matters that do not require significant argument. We are not consumed with unnecessary formality with regard to arguing motions. You can argue your motion sitting at counsel table, or standing if you prefer. We have an easel in the courtroom.
You can assume that we have read everything you filed before the hearing. If we haven’t we’ll let you know.
3. What do you expect the attorneys to have ready at the pretrial conference?
We send out a scheduling order in every case and closer to trial, a detailed trial order. We do not routinely require a separate pretrial conference unless counsel asks for one. We generally will have a pretrial conference in cases that involve unusual complexity, issues, or trial length, and would expect to discuss any of the topics described in Minn. R. Civ. P. 16.
4. At what point do you expect the parties to undertake ADR, if at all?
Our pretrial scheduling order generally sets ADR following the completion of discovery and prior to the deadline for the hearing dispositive motions. However, we are not wed to a rigid or formulaic ADR schedule. We are sensitive to any requests for earlier ADR deadlines, and encourage early efforts to settle a case before the cost of litigation makes settlement unfeasible. We read your informational statements required by Rule 111.02 carefully, and it provides useful input to the court about recommended ADR, the timing of the process, the identity of the neutral, the deadline for completion of ADR, and whether ADR might be inappropriate given the nature of the case.
5. At what point, if any, do you encourage the parties to settle or to exchange settlement offers/demand? Does that vary by type of case (personal injury, family, criminal, etc?
We allow the ADR process run by a neutral third party to follow its own course. If the Court conducts a settlement conference, we encourage the parties to talk and exchange positions prior to the conference.
6. Do you require that a person with ultimate authority to settle be present at settlement negotiation?
Yes. For all settlement conferences conducted by the court, we issue an order stating that it is “a mandatory conference and shall be attended by the attorneys who will try the case, the parties involved in the litigation, claims adjusters, and any other person with full authority to settle the case.” The order also states that “failure to comply with this order will subject the parties to appropriate sanctions to include the assessment of costs against the delinquent party, dismissal or other relief as the court may deem appropriate.”
7. How do you expect the parties to handle discovery disputes (including calling you for a ruling during a deposition)?
Generally, discovery disputes should be handled in the matter provided in Rule 115.04 for non-dispositive motions, with a notice of motion, motion, proposed order, affidavits and exhibits, and any memorandum served and filed 14 days prior to the hearing, and any response filed and served at least seven days prior to the hearing.
We are open to an exception to the rule where the delays built into the briefing process would cause an injustice, or cause extraordinary delay or expense. For example, as time allows, we will resolve disputes at depositions with minimal notice to the Court and by conference call.
In every case, and as provided by Rule 115.10 of the General Rules of Practice and Minn. R. Civ. P. 37.01 (B), the parties must meet and confer and make a good faith effort to resolve their dispute before involving the court in a discovery dispute.
8. Do you have any preferences for courtroom decorum (including but not limited to cell phones, pagers, passing notes, communicating with others at counsel table, water/beverages at counsel table, approaching the witness, courtroom attire)?
We have no unusual preferences.
9. With respect to oral argument, do you prefer an attorney to assume you have read the supporting memorandum and exhibits and not reiterate written material?
10. What do you consider to be the basic requirements of good oral argument (including the amount of time appropriate for oral argument)?
We usually allow up to an hour for oral argument in a summary judgment case, and up to 30 minutes for a non-dispositive motion. The basic requirement for good oral argument is to try to be cogent, pithy, and persuasive. Focus on the key facts and law which drive the motion. Don’t exaggerate the law or the facts.
11. What preferences do you have for jury trials? How do you prefer voir dire to be conducted?
We are considerate of the jury’s time, and try to minimize interruptions, bench conferences, or unduly long breaks once the jury has been empanelled and the trial has begun. The court routinely conducts initial voir dire. The court will usually accommodate any request that the court ask particular questions in voir dire. In cases where an insurance company may have an interest in the outcome of the case, the parties should advise the Court whether the voir dire questions about insurance contained in Rule 123 of the General Rules of Practice should be asked by the court.