COURTROOM 6E OPERATIONS AND GUIDELINES DURING COVID-19
For the overall order issued by the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, General Division during COVID-19, please review the most recent press release here. These guidelines apply to all civil and criminal matters from April 6, 2020 to May 29, 2020.
For the overall tolling order issued by the Supreme Court of Ohio during COVID-19, please review the order here. Tolling applies to both criminal and civil matters from March 9, 2020 to July 30, 2020, or the date the period of emergency ends, whichever is sooner.
Courtroom 6E will not be conducting any criminal or civil trials between April 6, 2020 to May 29, 2020. All criminal and civil trials currently scheduled for that time period will be vacated and rescheduled sua sponte by the court. Counsel will be notified of new dates. For the period from June 1, 2020 to July, 30, 2020, trials will be held in pendency until the tolling order subsides or the emergency order ends, whichever is sooner.
For criminal matters besides trials, such as in custody, the court is available for resolution of those matters on Wednesdays. Further, in jail dispositions will be conducted on April 9, 2020 and April 23, 2020. To discuss resolution of criminal matters on Wednesdays or any of these dates, please contact the bailiff, April Scott, at 614.525.5214, or Judge Serrott at 614.525.5881.
Judge Serrott may make case by case exceptions if requested to do so by counsel. Judge Serrott will be available to handle any emergency requests and available for pleas by agreement of counsel (of his own and other judges) during this time. The Judge will be conducting bond hearings upon request and pursuant to Sheriff’s Baldwin’s request, will consider releasing on recognizance any non-violent F-3, F-4, or F-5 cases, or probation holders, on a case by case basis.
Unless the court contacts you otherwise, all in-person civil hearings and mediations scheduled for April 6,2020-May 29, 2020 will be vacated and rescheduled by the court sua sponte. For matters that can be addressed via telephone or videoconference, such as status conferences and discovery disputes, the court encourages their use and will schedule them if all parties agree during this time period. The court has access to teleconference and videoconference technology and will supply access to all parties. For substantive motions (e.g., summary judgment and default judgment) that were filed or became ripe after March 9, 2020, the date the tolling order begins, the court will not rule on them unless, and only if, all parties agree. Otherwise, the court will hold the motions in abeyance until the tolling order terminates. For more routine motions filed after March 9, 2020, such as case scheduling, the court will rule on them as long as all parties are in agreement.
Until the COVID-19 crisis subsides, the court prefers to conduct civil matters via telephone, email, or videoconference. Courtroom 6E will not be coming to a standstill, but rather we will be using technology to move civil cases forward. Should any attorney need assistance on a civil matter, please contact the staff attorney, Paige Kohn, at 614.525.6087 or Paige_Kohn@fccourts.org.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation during these trying times.
CIVIL PRACTICE GUIDELINES
Judge Mark A. Serrott – Courtroom 6E
The following guidelines are preferences for this court and are not meant to be exhaustive or inflexible. If special circumstances exist, the court will take those into consideration. All civil practice communication and submissions should be directed to the staff attorney, Paige Kohn, at Paige_Kohn@fccourts.org. Email is the preferred method of communication, but the staff attorney may also be reached at 614.525.6087.
- Case Scheduling
The court prefers joint motions for amending the case schedule. Whether joint or by the motion of one party, the court prefers counsel suggest several new dates that already fit within all party schedules. The court will then choose the dates that work best for the docket. While the court is reasonable, it also prefers to move cases along. If a case stalls or becomes overage, it will be less amenable to continuances absent exceptional circumstances.
- Status and Pretrial Conferences
- Ad Hoc: If parties believe a dispute would benefit from a status conference with the court outside the normal case schedule, parties are encouraged to contact the court to schedule a conference.
- Telephone: The court is amenable to conducting telephone status conferences unless circumstances exist that necessitate counsel appear in person. The court retains a conference line and will share it with counsel in advance of the call. The court will also address discovery and other issues on telephone conference calls. Motions are not always necessary.
- Pretrial Preferences: The court prefers to conduct pretrial conferences in person. At pretrial conferences, counsel shall be prepared to provide the court with an update on the following:
- The likelihood of trial and whether settlement is a viable option;
- The willingness to waive a jury and/or have the case heard by the magistrate/judge and a jury;
- The minimum number of days anticipated to conclude the trial;
- Any motions that should be addressed prior to trial; and
- The need for an evidence cart.
The court prefers parties try and resolve discovery disputes to their best ability before approaching the court. If a discovery dispute necessitates court intervention, however, the court prefers scheduling a status conference first to avoid unnecessary motion practice.
Whenever possible and reasonable, parties shall e-file a proposed entry with motions. Examples include, but are not limited to, motions for an amended case schedule and default judgment. Counsel shall also include a working email address and phone number in the signature block of each motion filed.
Judge Serrott encourages alternate dispute resolution, especially mediation. Both Judge Serrott and Magistrate Thompson are available to conduct mediations at the court. If a mediation is scheduled with Judge Serrott, he requests a brief mediation statement (2-3 pages), at least three days before the mediation to be submitted to the staff attorney. Mediation statements will be kept confidential and not shared with opposing counsel.
In the mediation statements, please include the following information:
- Brief History of Dispute
- Procedural (include any outstanding motions)
- Status of Negotiations
- Last Demand/Last Offer
- Realistic Statement as to Potential Settlement
- Client Expectations
- Potential Barriers to Settlement (e.g., legal or personal issues)
- Strengths and Weaknesses of Case
- Any Other Matter Client/Counsel May Believe Pertinent to Mediation
If a case has settled before the mediation or trial date, please promptly inform the staff attorney so as to avoid unnecessary work on motions.
If a case genuinely appears to require a trial, alert chambers as soon as possible so that the court may do its best to assign a trial date with the court’s calendar.
- Evidence Cart: If an evidence cart is needed, counsel shall inform the staff attorney one day before trial via email.
- Exhibits: Counsel shall drop off to the court a jointly agreed exhibit binder in hard copy form one day before trial, directed to the staff attorney. If there are exhibits that are not jointly agreed to, counsel shall create a separate hard copy binder per party with disputed exhibits and also drop them off to the court one day before trial, directed to the staff attorney.
- Jury Instructions: Counsel shall attempt to confer and agree upon joint jury instructions and send them to the staff attorney via email one day before trial. If counsel do not agree upon joint jury instructions, one draft shall be submitted to the staff attorney via email, with differences highlighted, one day before trial. The Court requires one draft so that the differences are easily discernable and so that edits are easily accomplished.
- Jury Selection: Each side shall receive one hour to conduct jury selection. The Court will be flexible on the time limitation depending on the nature of the case.
- Miscellaneous Forms: Other forms that may be relevant besides jury instructions, such as interrogatories and verdict forms, shall be submitted to the staff attorney via email one day before trial.
- Motions in Limine: Motions in Limine shall be filed with the court three days before trial.
- Trial Schedule: On the first day of trial, proceedings will begin at 10:30AM/11AM, including opening statements and jury selection. A lunch break will occur at 12:30PM-1:30PM. Proceedings will resume at 1:30PM and end at 4PM on the first day. Counsel should also plan to have witnesses available the first day. For the remaining trial days, proceedings will begin at 9AM and last until 4:30PM. A lunch break will continue to occur from 12:30PM-1:30PM. The exception to this schedule will be disposition days, usually every other Thursday, which may require different hours that will be communicated to counsel and the jury a day before.
- Witnesses: Counsel must ask the court to approach a witness.