FRANKLIN COUNTY RULES OF PRACTICE
OF THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
Domestic Relations Division
Effective July 1, 1984 unless otherwise noted

DOMESTIC RULES
 
 

RULE 4:

Initial Pre-trial conference, Disclosure of Witnesses, Discovery cut off, Dispositive Motion Hearing, Trial Exhibits, Final Settlement Conference and Assignment of cases for trial

 

(A)  MAGISTRATE STATUS CONFERENCE

 Upon request of either party or the magistrate, the assigned magistrate may conduct a status conference in actions for divorce, legal separation, and annulment.  The status conference shall be scheduled as directed by the magistrate, and the requesting party shall give notice of the status conference to the opposing party.  At the status conference the parties shall attempt to reach an amicable settlement of all issues in controversy, and in the event settlement is not possible, to expedite proceedings in the action. At the status conference attorneys and parties shall be prepared to:

 1.   Narrow the legal issues in controversy;

 2.      Select court appointed experts and/or Guardian ad Litem;

3.      Advise the Court of the time needed to submit affidavits in support of temporary orders;

4.      Determine whether a referral to Family Assessment or Mediation Services is necessary for mediation or a home investigation.

After the status conference the magistrate may issue a status conference order or other scheduling order.

(B)   PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES

 (1) Initial pre-trial conference

An initial pre-trial conference shall be conducted at the date and time appearing in the Case Schedule or the Trial Judge orders otherwise.  It shall be the duty of all counsel and parties to attend the initial pretrial conference fully prepared and authorized to enter into binding pre-trial orders and to begin negotiation toward settlement of the case.  Failure to be prepared may result in dismissal of the case for want of prosecution, default judgment, or other sanctions as the Trial Judge deems appropriate.  At the initial pretrial conference the discussion should include, but not be limited to:

i.                    Joinder of parties;

ii.                  Third party practice;

iii.                Amendment of the pleadings;

iv.                Issues concerning jurisdiction and venue;

v.                  Service of process;

vi.                Default judgment; Motions under Civil Rules 12, 56, and 75(B);

vii.              The need for a Guardian ad Litem;

viii.            The need for alteration of the schedule of events on the track;

ix.                Use of arbitration, mediation, or other means of dispute resolution; and

x.                   Settlement.

The Trial Judge at the request of any party shall, prepare or cause to be prepared, a written order reciting the action taken at the initial pre-trial conference, which shall be field and served on all counsel. Changes in the Case Schedule shall be accomplished pursuant to Local Rule 3(E).

 (2)   Second Pre-Trial Conference

 No later than seven days prior to the second pre-trial conference, each party shall file and serve upon opposing counsel or pro se party, a completed pretrial statement affidavit as promulgated by the Court.  Failure to file and serve a completed statement/affidavit may result in sanctions which shall be within the discretion of the Judge.

At the second pre-trial conference, the Judge may issue pre-trial orders.  If either counsel or pro se party believes pre-trial orders are necessary they shall prepare and submit a pre-trial order to the judge at the time of the pre-trial conference.

 (C)             ATTENDANCE AT STATUS OR PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES

All counsel of record, including the Guardian ad Litem, and all parties except minor children, if within the jurisdiction of the Court, shall be present at any status or pre-trial conference, unless excused in advance by the Judge or Magistrate presiding over said conference.  If a party is not within the jurisdiction of the court or has been excused by the court, that party shall provide his/her attorney with the telephone number at which (s)he may be reached during the conference.  Counsel attending a conference must have complete authority to discuss and settle, if possible, all issues involved in the case, and to enter into stipulations regarding unresolved issues.

Failure of an attorney to be prepared for a status or pre-trial conference, and failure of a party or attorney to appear, or to cooperate in good faith in the conduct of the conference, may result in dismissal of the pleadings of the defaulting party and may subject said attorney or party to any sanctions provided in Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 37(D), including an award of expenses and/or attorney fees to any party prejudiced by such conduct.

Any agreement reached shall be immediately reduced to writing, signed by both parties and their counsel and shall be filed with the Court and shall be binding on all parties in any subsequent hearing.

(D)         Disclosure of Witnesses

i.                    Initial Joint Disclosure of Lay/Expert Witnesses

Each party shall not later than the date for disclosure designated in the Case Schedule, serve on all parties and file with the Court a written disclosure of all persons with relevant factual or expert knowledge whom the party reserves the option to call as witnesses at trial.

ii.                  Supplemental Joint Disclosure of All witnesses.

Each party shall, no later than the date for disclosure in the Case Schedule, serve on all parties and file with the court a written disclosure of all persons whose factual or expert knowledge did not appear relevant until the witnesses were initially disclosed whom the party reserves the option to call as witnesses at trial.

iii.                Scope of Disclosure.

Disclosure of witnesses under this rule shall include the following information:

a)      All Witnesses. Name, addresses, and business phone number (or home phone number if no business number is available).

b)      Lay Witnesses. A brief description of witnesses’ relevant knowledge.

c)      Experts. A brief description of the expert’s qualifications and summary of the expert’s opinions and the basis or theory of that opinion.

 

(E)       Exclusion of Testimony

 Any witnesses not disclosed in compliance with this rule may not be called to testify at trial, unless the Trail Judge orders otherwise for good cause and subject to such conditions as justice requires.

  (F)       Discovery Cutoff

The discovery cutoff date specified in the Case Schedule shall be the last date for any party to seek the involvement of the Trial Judge in the discovery process by way of motion seeking a ruling, an order, sanctions, or other Court action, absent extraordinary circumstances. Voluntary, mutually agreed-upon discovery, including perpetuation of trial testimony by video tape or otherwise, may continue after the discovery cutoff in a manner that does not delay any other event on the case schedule.

 (G)       ASSIGNMENT AND SCHEDULING OF TRIALS AND MOTIONS

 It is the intent of the Court that cases are to be resolved within the time guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

 To comply with 3125.58 of the Ohio Revised Code all actions for support for a child or spouse shall be docketed and heard so that the time limits set forth in 3125.58 of the Ohio Revised Code can be met and priority shall be given to such cases for this purpose.

(2)   Uncontested Hearings:  All uncontested actions for divorce, legal separation or annulment shall be assigned for trial by the Assignment Commissioner upon the request of the party or attorney for the party, but pursuant to Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 75(K) may not be heard and decided until the expiration of 42 days after service.

In all proceedings which are uncontested due to the Defendant’s failure to file an answer, Plaintiff shall submit a proposed judgment entry together with findings of fact if statutorily required to the Court at the time of trial.

(3)  Dissolutions:  Pursuant to O.R.C.3105.64, petitions for dissolution of marriage shall be scheduled for hearing not less than thirty days nor more than ninety days after the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. 

(4)   Motions:  Motions for temporary orders shall proceed in accordance with Local Rule 13(A) and (B).  All other motions shall proceed in accordance with Local Rule 13(C) and (D).

(5)  Mediation:  Mediation shall proceed as provided in Local Rule 22.

(H)       CONTINUANCES OR ADVANCEMENT 

All motions for continuance or advancement must be on a form promulgated by the court and must:

1.      State the reason for the request, and if the request is being made due to a conflict with another case, contain the name, case number, type of case (civil or criminal), name of the Judge and county where the case is scheduled, and the date and time the case is assigned for trial.  A copy of the scheduling notice should be attached to the request;

2.      Contain the filing date of the case or pending motion;

3.      State the number of times the case or motion has been continued;

4. Reflect the approval of opposing counsel or pro se party unless otherwise excused by the judge or magistrate.  If the opposing counsel or pro se party does not consent to the continuance a conference shall be scheduled with the assigned judge or magistrate to resolve the continuance motion.  No case may be continued by agreement of counsel or the parties without permission of the assigned judge or magistrate.

 

(I) FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

A party requesting findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Ohio Civil Rule 52, Ohio Civil Rule 53(E)(2) or Ohio Juvenile Rule 40(E)(2) shall serve a copy of the request on the opposing party and deliver a copy of the request to the judge or magistrate to whom the request is directed. If findings of fact and conclusions of law are requested by a party, the judge or magistrate to whom the request is directed may order the parties to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the proceedings.  Upon being so ordered, if a party who requested findings of fact and conclusions of law fails to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law as ordered, the judge or magistrate may deem the request for findings of fact and conclusions of law to be waived and enter a decision and entry accordingly, as if no request for findings of fact and conclusions of law was made. 

(J)   WITHDRAWAL OF TRIAL ATTORNEY

An attorney requesting to withdraw from representation of a client shall file a motion to withdraw stating the reasons for withdrawal.  The motion shall include the last current address of the client and certification that the following have occurred: 

a.       notice has been given to the client advising the client of all orders and all upcoming assignment dates affecting the client; 

b.  notice has been given to all counsel, or if unrepresented, to the  parties. 

The attorney shall serve the motion to withdraw from representation on the client and all parties or their counsel.

            No attorney shall be permitted to withdraw from a case later than 20 days prior to hearing except for extraordinary circumstances.  If a case is scheduled for hearing before a magistrate, the request to withdraw should be approved by the assigned magistrate prior to being submitted to the assigned judge.           

(Amended, eff 7/1/85, eff 8/2/90, eff 7/1/93, 7/1/99; 8/1/04; 1/25/10)