CIVIL. Every civil case will be set for an initial status conference within 90-120 days after the complaint is filed. This should allow sufficient time for all parties to be served and responsive pleadings to be filed. Status conferences may be conducted by telephone, unless otherwise ordered. The parties shall file the Civil Rule 26(F) report outlining a proposed discovery plan prior to the second status conference. The parties are expected to commence discovery as soon as practicable. The Court will schedule additional status conferences as deemed necessary to ensure that discovery is progressing appropriately and the parties are discussing the possibility of settlement. Once the Court is satisfied that discovery is proceeding and settlement discussions have commenced, a scheduling conference will be set. At the scheduling conference, a trial date, final pretrial date, discovery deadline, and dispositive motion deadline will be selected and journalized in a Scheduling Order. The physical presence of counsel and all parties (or a party designee with settlement authority) is required at the final pretrial.
CRIMINAL. At the arraignment hearing, every criminal case will be set for a Pretrial within 14 days. At the Pretrial, a Plea or Trial Setting hearing will be scheduled. For good cause, additional Plea or Trial Setting hearings may be scheduled. A trial will be set if the parties do not reach a plea agreement. The defendant’s speedy trial rights will be strictly enforced. The parties are expected to bring any speedy trial issues to the Court’s attention immediately.
The Court is mindful of the Supreme Court guidelines and the Rules of Superintendence governing the timely disposition of both civil and criminal cases, and will make every effort to schedule trials within those guidelines.
All requests for a continuance shall be made by written motion filed with the Clerk. The motion shall set forth the reason for the requested continuance, and whether opposing counsel objects to the motion. All motions for continuance shall be accompanied by a proposed entry granting the request. Trials will only be continued upon a showing of just cause created by unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances which prohibit a party from adequately preparing for trial.
Motion practice is governed by the applicable Civil and Criminal Rules. Motions requiring the presentation of evidence in the courtroom shall be scheduled for hearing. Requests for oral argument on motions will be considered on a case by case basis, and will only be granted when oral argument will assist the Court in understanding the issues and/or the arguments of counsel. Thorough briefing should obviate the need for most oral arguments.
The Court has a full time mediator on staff. Most civil cases will be referred to mediation prior to trial. The parties may choose to use a private mediator, at their expense.
Trial briefs are due by the date set forth in the Scheduling Order.
In civil cases, counsel are encouraged to submit jury instructions, interrogatories (if applicable), and verdict forms that are agreeable to all parties. Absent such agreement, each party shall submit proposed jury instructions, interrogatories, and verdict forms on all claims or defenses applicable to that party by the date set forth in the Scheduling Order.
The Court is very mindful of the time of those who are interrupting their private lives to fulfill their civic duty to serve as jurors. Counsel are expected to be fully prepared, to have their witnesses in the courthouse and ready to testify at the appropriate time, to have exhibits marked, and to take all other actions necessary to prevent delay in the presentation of the evidence.
Should counsel wish to use any of the Court’s technology in the courtroom, counsel shall schedule a meeting with the bailiff prior to the trial for a “test run.” Counsel, not the bailiff, is responsible for marking and displaying any exhibits during the trial. Counsel, not the Court, is responsible for any redactions to exhibits. The video screen in the courtroom can be accessed from each counsel table with counsel’s own laptops. The bailiff’s responsibility is to maintain custody of the exhibits once they have been admitted. Any digital exhibits admitted at trial will be loaded onto a desktop computer in the jury room for the jury’s review during deliberations.