Civil Practice Guidelines – Courtroom 5F
(for info on 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.
(1)Stipulations or "Agreed" Entries are not sufficient to postpone case deadlines or trial dates in Courtroom 5F.
(2)Motions to amend the Civil Case Schedule should either be submitted in person at a conference with the court, or filed with the Clerk’s Office. Consult all other counsel before approaching the court.
(3)If a case genuinely appears likely to require a trial, alert chambers as early as possible so that a firm trial date may be assigned.
When urgent attention is sought, please deliver copies of motions along with a proposed Entry for the Judge’s signature to Chambers 5F. E-Filing does not ordinarily provide instantaneous copies for the court.
|III-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, unless otherwise advised 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. Citations to witness depositions or other parts of the record that demonstrate such disputes are, of course, essential.
D. Stipulations of fact are valuable tools. Counsel should discuss stipulations before filing Civ. R. 56 motions, and whenever possible before significant pretrial 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 5F.
F. Even when agreed upon by counsel, Judge Frye 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 pretrial rulings or at trial is, ordinarily, a matter of public record.
|IV-Conferences and Oral Argument|
A. The court does not routinely hold pretrial conferences or oral argument on motions. However, in cases of complexity or matters likely to actually go to trial the court will hold status conferences and a Final Pretrial Conference. Similarly, upon request the court will hear oral argument on significant motions.
B. 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 pretrial proceedings in person.
|Pre-Trial Conferences – Civil Cases|
Civil pretrial or status conferences may be conducted by either the court, the Magistrate, or the Staff Attorney.
Pre-trial Statements in accordance with Local Rule 41.04 are required at Final Pretrial Conferences immediately before trial.
Prior to the Final Pretrial 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.
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. 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.
C. Trial briefs are not required. Counsel may 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.
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’ll just use OJI” leaves far too much work to complete and may delay 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.
O. Trial counsel are expected to remain available on ten (10) minutes notice during jury deliberations.
P. 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.
Q. 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.
ALL proposed Entries should be place in the DROP BOX located in the back hallway next to 8A Chambers. Once signed, they will be returned to the table for pick up, filing with the clerk, and service on all parties or counsel.
It is counsel’s obligation to assure that the original document is filed with the Clerk, and that copies are promptly served upon all counsel or parties in the case. The only copies of Entries mailed by the Court are those generated by this Court.
If documents have been dropped off for the Judge’s review and do not reappear on the table within a day or two, this indicates that the Judge has not had an opportunity to review them due to a trial or other pressing matters. If, after a reasonable time you or your runner find it necessary to check with the Bailiff on a given document, please have the case number, case caption, title of document and date dropped off to assist us. Our Bailiff receives so many documents every week that she cannot be immediately familiar with each one that passes over her desk.
Ordinarily, please first check the table to see if an Entry has been signed—rather than first calling the Bailiff. This will alleviate a backlog of calls on matters that can be performed by your runner.
|Mediation / Arbitration|
If counsel desire to submit their case to mediation with Magistrate Harildstad, simply call our Bailiff 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.
Firms representing clients in foreclosure actions should note that once a Judgment Entry is journalized the case is terminated from our active trial docket. This does not mean that it is dismissed. Please see attached Instructions to Counsel on Foreclosure Cases.
Consistent with Local Rule 22, Counsel must call the Bailiff 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.
|Phone Calls To Chambers|
Once you have left a message on the Bailiff’s voice mail, please wait for a return call unless the matter is truly urgent.
If the Court is in trial or has a large docket, it may be a few days before you receive a return call. A Bailiff receives numerous calls on any given day, so please be patient. CALLING SEVERAL TIMES IS NOT NECESSARY. Frequently our Bailiff will be more readily available in the afternoon after 1:30 p.m.
A. Judge Frye does not favor “boilerplate” confidentiality/protective orders such as those that seek to place virtually all discovery material under some nondisclosure status, even when agreed upon by counsel. Counsel should recognize that material used for case-dispositive pretrial rulings or at trial is, ordinarily, a matter of public record. Furthermore, absent true trade secrets or other truly private material, the extra cost and delay involved in handling material under seal rarely is justified.
B. If in doubt about our procedures, please ask. In the long run you will probably avoid inconvenience for everyone involved. However, ex parte conversations with anyone on court staff must be limited to purely procedural matters.
C. While gifts at the Holidays are no doubt completely well intentioned they raise potential difficulties under ethics rules. To avoid such issues, please do not leave gifts for anyone in Courtroom 8A.