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Judge William H. Woods

Common Pleas Courthouse, Courtroom 7B
345 S. High St., 7th Floor
Columbus, Oh 43215
Tel: 614-525-3770
Fax: 614-525-4240
Local Rules
Clerk of Courts' on-line records

Who to call . . .when you need . . .

Catherine Culp
general court info; to report settlement of a civil case; to schedule a classroom visit to the courtroom.

Debbie Petit
to inquire about procedures and processes in any criminal matters before the court.

Keith Dyer
Staff Attorney
to request a status conference or to inquire about any pending civil matters before the court.

Julie Clark
Court Reporter
to order transcripts.

Mark Petrucci
to inquire about scheduling mediation, magistrate trials, or damages hearings.

Civil Practice Guidelines
(for information regarding criminal procedures and preferences, please call the Judge’s bailiff)
Professional behavior best serves your clients and this Court. Contention that merely increases cost or delay for litigants, or wastes the court’s limited resources is unwelcome. “The Introductory Statement on Civility” published at the front of the Local Rules for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has universal applicability.
Proposed Entries
All motions, with the exception of motions for summary judgment, should be accompanied by a separate proposed entry. Such proposed entry shall be prepared in Word and uploaded in the e-filing system as a completely separate filing from the motion.
A. . Stipulations or “Agreed” Entries are not enough to postpone civil trials in Courtroom 7B. Motions for continuance of a trial date, absent true emergency, must be in writing and should be sought well before the Final Pre-Trial Conference. If you have a case that genuinely appears likely to require a trial, alert Chambers as soon as you know so that we can do our best to allow enough time for pre-trial proceedings and try to assign a “firm” trial date.

B. Any motions affecting scheduling should affirmatively state: 1) whether, following consultation with all other counsel, the change is opposed or agreed to; 2) specific reasons supporting a continuance (and, if applicable, an amended Case Schedule).

C. When a filing is submitted to the Clerk’s Office, the filing does not instantaneously reach Chambers and could take up to three days to be received. Please consider this when timely attention is needed to your filing. If more timely attention is genuinely necessary, please deliver a courtesy copy of your motion or other filing to Chambers 7B.

D. When filing Motions to amend the Case Schedule, please be sensitive to the Local Rules governing presumptive time to trial for various types of cases, and invest your best effort to comply. Be certain to talk to all other Counsel regarding conflicting vacations or court assignments before approaching the Court.

E. Decisions regarding trial continuances or changes to the Case Schedule are made solely by the Judge, giving consideration to the complexity and age of the case, plus prior efforts of Counsel to move the case to timely resolution.
Motions and Memoranda
A. Counsel must obtain leave of court prior to filing a Motion or Memorandum out of rule or beyond the motion deadline in the Case Schedule. A Stipulation among Counsel will not alter any deadline absent express approval by the Court.

B. Page limits (Local Rule 12) serve a salutary purpose. Ordinarily, Counsel should edit tightly and live within the limits. To assist in meeting page limits, Counsel may assume no briefing is necessary on the legal standards applicable under Civ. Rules 12, 26, 37, 56 or 60(B).

C. In responding to a Civ. R. 56 Motion, it is very valuable to have Counsel specifically identify precisely what, if any, material disputes of fact are asserted to exist. Specific citations to witness depositions or other parts of the Record that demonstrate such disputes are essential.

D. Stipulations of fact are valuable tools. Counsel should discuss stipulations before filing Civ. R. 56 Motions and, whenever possible, before significant pre-trial discovery to reduce cost and delay.

E. Local Rule 47.01 requires Counsel to make every effort to resolve discovery disputes prior to involving the Court. This obligation is enforced in Courtroom 7B. If counsel cannot resolve a discovery dispute, the parties should request a status conference to discuss outstanding issues.

F. Even when agreed upon by Counsel, Judge Woods does not favor “boilerplate” confidentiality/protective orders, particularly those that seek to place virtually all discovery material under some nondisclosure status. Recognize that material used for case dispositive pre-trial rulings or at trial is, ordinarily, a matter of public record.

G. Civil motions filed under ordinary practice with the Clerk’s office normally will, approximately 30 days after filing, be pulled and forwarded to Chambers for review and decision. Motions under submission will be prioritized taking into consideration the trial date or other time urgency. If you wish the Judge to receive a courtesy copy of motion papers, please drop them off in the “In Box” for Courtroom 7B. If there is some unusual urgency about a particular motion, please contact the Staff Attorney so the matter can be expedited.

Conferences and Oral Argument
A. Civil pre-trial or status conferences may be conducted by either the Judge, the Magistrate, or the Staff Attorney.

B. Pre trial Statements in accordance with Local Rule 41.04 are required at Final Pre-trial Conferences.

C. Prior to the Final Pre-trial Conference, trial counsel must confer about their willingness to waive a jury and/or have the case heard by the Magistrate and a jury; the minimum number of days anticipated to conclude the trial and whether time limits will be useful to keep matters moving; the number of parties and witnesses participating in trial and any special scheduling needs; any Motions to be addressed prior to commencing trial; and deposition transcripts or videotapes filed with the Clerk’s office that need to be retrieved and for which evidentiary rulings must be made before presentation during trial.

D. Normally, the Court expects out of town (including pro hoc vice) trial counsel to attend all court proceedings in person, rather than by telephone or using only local counsel. Unless otherwise ordered, clients and insurance representatives need not attend pre-trial proceedings in person.

E. The Court does not routinely hold oral argument on motions. However, in cases of complexity, particularly matters likely to actually go to trial, upon request the court may hear oral argument.
Trial Procedures
A. Ordinarily, trials commence at 9:00 a.m. and recess for the day around 4:30 p.m. These hours can be altered somewhat to accommodate witness schedules. Once a jury is sworn, we make it a priority to move trials to completion. Pleas in criminal cases or other business of Courtroom 7B is sometimes conducted during the noon hour, but once a jury is sworn, we make it a priority to keep jury trials moving to completion. Please plan accordingly.

B. Motions in Limine are discouraged. They may be filed only after good faith discussion by Counsel and upon certification that reasonable efforts to resolve the issue(s) were exhausted. All motions in limine shall be filed thirty days prior to the trial date, and shall also be e mailed to the Court in Microsoft Word format.

C. Trial briefs are not required. However, Counsel are encouraged to submit copies of key cases or short memoranda addressed to novel legal issues.

D. Marking Exhibits during trial wastes time. The Court reserves the right to exclude Exhibits not pre marked and exchanged among counsel prior to trial.

E. Deposition objections: Deposition transcripts shall be submitted to the Court in hard-copy form at least 14 days prior to the start of trial, and Counsel shall notify the Court by calling the Staff Attorney of any objections that need to be ruled upon.

F. Prior to opening statements, the Court gives an oral charge to orient jurors to their role. The final jury charge is submitted to each juror in writing in all cases. The Court has a standard set of “boilerplate” instructions covering burden of proof, credibility, rules for deliberating, and other matters common from case to case. However, trial counsel must consult and prepare case specific portions of the final charge. Merely saying “we will just use OJI” leaves far too much work to complete and may delay trial. Proposed civil jury instructions and verdict forms should be emailed to the Staff Attorney in Microsoft Word format at least 14 days prior to the start of trial.

G. Local Rule 27.13(F) sets out “Rules on Voir Dire.” Because the Court does preliminary questioning and juror questionnaires are available, lengthy voir dire is usually unnecessary.

H. Challenges are normally exercised outside the presence of the jury.

I. Stipulations should be presented as early as possible during trial to minimize confusion and avoid unnecessary questioning thereafter.

J. Juror note-taking is permitted.

K. Questions from jurors during trial are not permitted.

L. This Court does not affirmatively “qualify” witnesses as “expert” in front of the jury because it suggests some endorsement of them by the Court. Please do not ask during trial. If there is a Daubert challenge under the evidence rules on admissibility, Counsel should raise the issues as early as possible. If the issue arises late in the case, alert the Court to voir dire the witness as to admissibility outside the presence of the jury.

M. Display of Exhibits to the jury in opening statement or before formal admission is permitted absent objection by opposing Counsel. However, share all such material with all other Counsel before displaying it.

N. Trial Counsel are expected to remain available on ten (10) minutes’ notice during jury deliberations.

O. The Court sometimes imposes time limits on opening statements, voir dire, closing argument and the overall presentation of evidence where Counsel are unable to closely manage the anticipated duration of their case. Jurors in this Court are ordinarily summoned for a one week/one-trial period, and staying within a tight time frame is essential in all but the most complex trials.

P. Refer to all adult witnesses or participants, including your own client(s), as “Mr.” or “Ms.” or use other appropriate titles such as “Dr.” First names shall not be used.

Consistent with Local Rule 22, Counsel must call the Staff Attorney as soon as possible to advise when a case is settled. This Court normally has multiple trials scheduled every day; notice enables the Court and attorneys in other pending cases to plan appropriately. Furthermore, prompt notice avoids unnecessary work on motions after a matter already is resolved by the parties.
If Counsel desire to submit their case to mediation with Magistrate Petrucci, simply call the Staff Attorney and advise that Counsel are in agreement. The reference paperwork will be prepared and forwarded to the proper office. The Court also encourages use of private mediators whose schedules may be more accommodating.

Do not wait until an approaching trial date to initially ask for mediation or other ADR. Few cases will be continued for this reason.