Judge Guy L. Reece, II
CIVIL LITIGATION PREFERENCES
|To inquire about general court info|
To report that the parties have reached a settlement in a civil case
To call-in for a telephone status conference
To schedule a classroom visit to the courtroom
|To ask procedural questions on any criminal matters before the Court|
To request a continuance
To schedule a status conference
To request referral to Magistrate for mediation and/or trial
|To check on status of pending civil actions and/or motions|
To ask procedural questions on any civil matters before the Court
To report that the parties are engaging in settlement (even if one not reached yet) and address
how that may impact any pending motions
To request a status conference
|To order transcripts|
|To schedule mediation, Magistrate trials or damages hearings|
To inquire about the status of pending administrative appeal actions and/or motions in such actions
Courtroom 4A has an open door policy for any procedural matters that require assistance but no ex parte communication is allowed.
Procedural questions on civil matters should be directed to the Staff Attorney; for criminal matters, counsel should contact the Bailiff.
The Court expects professionalism and proper courtroom decorum at all times. Be on time, be prepared, and be courteous and respectful toward each other and the Court.
When possible (provided it does not adversely affect your client’s interests), work with each other to agree on procedural and scheduling requests but avoid unnecessary delay. The client’s interests are best served by a timely resolution of a legal dispute.
If an initial status conference is listed on the Clerk of Courts’ original case schedule, we expect you to appear for it. Initial status conferences afford counsel an opportunity to sit down with the Judge (or Staff Attorney) and discuss the subject matter of the case. These conferences facilitate the start of exchange of information and/or documents, and allow counsel and the Court an opportunity to highlight areas of concern and/or anticipated dispositive motions. They are also a good time to review and discuss alternative resolution options (settlement; mediation – private or with Judge/Magistrate).
If service has not been perfected on the defendant(s) one week prior to the scheduled initial status conference, plaintiff’s counsel should contact the Bailiff or Staff Attorney to advise of this fact and request that the conference be postponed.
If a dispute (discovery-related or otherwise) can be resolved via status conference or with input from the Court, counsel is encouraged to request a status conference.
Out-of-town counsel may participate in status conferences via telephone with advance notice to the Court and opposing counsel. If all counsel wish to participate via telephone, one of them is to set up the conference call and have all attorneys on the line before contacting the Court.
Trial briefs are to be filed at the final pre-trial conference, with courtesy copies to the Judge.
Client need not attend pre-trial conference but counsel must come fully prepared and authorized to discuss settlement options and/or negotiate.
Motions in Limine are to be filed no later than the morning of the final pre-trial conference. If counsel intends to make an oral motion only, such a motion can be made at the start of trial or before a specific witness testifies. However, if a paper motion will be filed or the issue involved is complicated and/or needs briefing, the motion must
be filed by the pre-trial conference date; courtesy copies to be submitted to the Judge at
When filing originals, please submit to Judge’s chambers courtesy copies of motions, memoranda contra and replies. Please refer to Loc.R. 11.05 for proper titles of motions, memoranda contra and replies.
Motions are ripe for consideration 28 days after they are filed and are decided without oral hearing (very few exceptions). If a decision on a motion is needed prior to the expiration of the 28-day period (especially
if prior to the expiration of the 14-day response period), counsel must alert opposing counsel and the Court of that fact and schedule a status conference to address this issue.
Agreed/unopposed/non-complicated motions should be accompanied by a proposed entry signed by counsel and submitted directly to the Staff Attorney or Bailiff. Do NOT
staple the original proposed entry to the original motion that is filed with the Clerk of Courts’ office; doing so will result in the entry simply getting placed in the case file, unsigned. Also, make sure the motion being granted (or denied) is clearly identified in the title of your proposed entry and the entry reflects service upon all identified applicable parties and/or attorneys (a notation of “service to all parties” is not
If you wish a copy of the proposed entry to be mailed back to you, please submit a
self-addressed stamped envelope. Otherwise, check the pick-up table by the Bailiff’s desk in a few days to pick up the signed entry, file it, and mail copies of it to all applicable parties and/or counsel. Please note that the submitting counsel is responsible for the prompt filing and service of any proposed entries; the only
entries filed and mailed by the Court are those that are generated by the Court.
Counsel should make all reasonable efforts to resolve disputes between themselves. If that is not possible, counsel should consider requesting a status conference prior to filing a motion, especially if it is a discovery-related dispute. All parties involved are happier when filing wars are avoided.
Please refer to the Local Rules for proper motions practice procedures and requirements, including page limitations.
Motion-Specific Considerations and Guidelines
Motion for Default Judgment:
· Ensure proper service before filing motion.
· If counsel submits a proposed entry granting default, the same should include language (with appropriate blank space) for the scheduling of a damages hearing (if needed).
Motion to Dismiss:
· In the context of motions to dismiss based on pleading deficiencies, be mindful of opposing counsel’s ability to file a motion for leave to amend.
· It may be better to point out any pleading deficiencies to opposing counsel (if they are something that can be corrected), and have opposing counsel file an amended pleading, as opposed to filing a motion seeking dismissal, which would then prompt a motion for leave, and result in the expenditure of time and resources that is not in the best interest of anyone.
Motion for Summary Judgment:
· Be mindful of any additional discovery that may be needed before opposing counsel can respond.
· A premature motion for summary judgment that prompts a Civ.R. 56(F) request (especially if the 56(F) motion is contested) further delays the process and does not result in the best use of judicial resources.
· Ex: Pro Hac Vice, Appointment of Process Server, Leave to Exceed Page Limits, Default Judgment, Continuance, etc.
· Dropping off a proposed entry for such motions expedites the process considerably.
· Again, please do not staple your original proposed entry to the original motion that gets filed with the Court or else it will simply get processed by the Clerk of Courts’ office and make its way into the file, unsigned.
· Prior to filing a motion seeking default in a foreclosure action, plaintiff’s counsel should ensure service on all applicable defendants.
· If plaintiff is not the lender on loan/holder of mortgage, counsel should provide assignment of mortgage (either with complaint or subsequent motion).
· If the mortgage is lost/destroyed, counsel should provide affidavit that says so.
· Motion seeking default judgment must be accompanied by affidavit pertaining to the defendant(s)’ military/minor/incompetent status and the fact of default in payment and amount past due.
Counsel must follow the discovery-related and other deadlines set forth in the original case schedule issued by the Clerk of Courts’ office.
Please bring discovery-related issues to the Court’s attention as soon as possible – do not
wait until the final pre-trial conference to do so! However, counsel is required by Civ.R. 26(C) and Civ.R. 37(E) to make reasonable efforts to resolve the discovery-related dispute informally prior to engaging the Court. Counsel should clearly identify what those efforts were and attach copies of any follow-up letters to any motions to compel and/or for a protective order.
Please note, however, that the Court’s preferred method of resolving a discovery-related dispute (whenever possible) is through a status conference; filing of motions pertaining to discovery disputes should be a last resort.
Although the parties may engage in mutually agreed-upon discovery after the discovery cut-off date (provided the same does not delay any other event in the proceeding), please note that, pursuant to Loc.R. 47.02, the discovery cut-off date is the last date
for any counsel to involve the Judge in a discovery-related dispute absent extraordinary circumstances.
Settlement conferences are favored. The possibility of settlement is usually addressed during the initial status conference. The action can be referred to mediation (with Judge, Magistrate or private mediator) or arbitration. If the parties agree to mediate, counsel should promptly advise the Court and request a referral to mediation.
If the parties are engaging in settlement talks (especially if there are any motions pending), counsel should notify the Staff Attorney of that fact as soon as possible. Once settlement has been reached, counsel must inform the Court as soon as possible and submit an appropriate entry as instructed by the Court.
Ordinarily, counsel has 20 days from the date of the Notice of Settlement issued by the Court to submit an appropriate entry. If the settlement requires approval from the Probate Court or other third-party, counsel should notify the Court of that fact and more time will be provided for the submission of the final judgment entry or stipulation of dismissal. Failure to submit a timely entry of dismissal after settlement will result in dismissal pursuant to Loc.R. 25.03.
Continuances and Amended Case Schedules
Continuances should be requested as soon as possible. Generally, a continuance will be granted for good cause shown.
Motions requesting continuance of trial date must specify: 1.) the reason for the continuance; 2.) whether the continuance request is opposed; and 3.) the length of time needed. Counsel should submit a proposed entry granting the motion seeking continuance of trial date, with blank lines for the new trial and pre-trial dates to be filled in by the Bailiff.
Although continuances are to be sought at the earliest time possible through a written motion, the Court realizes that extenuating circumstances may require a “last minute” continuance request. If that is the case, the continuance request may be made via telephone and all counsel should be on the telephone line at the time of the request. This expedites matters and avoids the need to re-schedule due to time conflicts with proposed dates. If it is not possible to have opposing counsel on the telephone, counsel requesting a continuance must be able to inform the Court about: 1.) the reason for the request; 2.) the length of continuance requested; and 3.) whether the request is opposed.
Every effort must be made to complete a case within the designated time period set forth in the original case schedule issued by the Clerk of Courts’ office. If a situation arises such that the schedule must be modified beyond that time period, counsel must promptly
notify the Court and request a status conference (in person or via telephone) to discuss an amended case schedule and set forth the reasons/explain why it is needed.
If counsel submits an agreed amended case scheduling order, counsel should include in it all agreed-upon dates except for the trial and pre-trial dates. Those are to be left blank and will be filled in by the Bailiff.
The trial date may be confirmed with the Bailiff.
Jury instructions are to be e-mailed (in Word document format) to the Secretary by the morning of trial at the following address: Marlene_Walker-Hanna@fccourts.org
Voir dire: The Court will allow jurors to make a statement before counsel conducts voir dire. Challenges are generally out of the hearing of the jurors.
Jury procedures: Jurors will be allowed to take notes and ask questions of the witnesses. Questions will be reviewed by the Court and counsel.