Civil Practice Guidelines
I. Status and Pretrial Conferences
- Upon request and pursuant to Local Rule 41.04 (PDF), counsel shall file a joint Pre-Trial Statement on or before the date of the final pre-trial conference. Counsel must appear in person for the final pre-trial. If no final pre-trial conference is scheduled, then counsel shall file the joint pre-trial statement no later than 14 days before trial.
- Counsel should be prepared to discuss:
- Any special scheduling needs
- Jury instructions
- Number of days anticipated to conclude trial
- Number of parties and witnesses participating in trial
- Outstanding issues and motions
- Parties’ willingness to waive a jury and/or have the case heard by a Magistrate
- Potential for settlement
- Parties shall come with full settlement authority.
- In the event that counsel fails to appear, to come prepared, or engages in other non-compliance with Local Rule 41.04, the Court may dismiss the action for want of prosecution, enter default judgment, and/or impose sanctions.
- Judge Cocroft welcomes the use of status conferences to resolve issues among counsel. Counsel may request status conferences to discuss matters including, but not limited to, discovery disputes. Counsel may request a status conference by contacting the Court’s Staff Attorney. Status conferences will be conducted by Judge Cocroft or her Staff Attorney.
- Status conferences are normally held in person; however, if counsel wish to appear by telephone counsel, then they must obtain advance permission from the Court and must inform opposing counsel. If permission for telephonic participation is granted then telephoning party(ies) must convene all participating counsel on one line and make a collaborative call to the Court at 614-525-7200.
- Please follow the deadlines outlined in the original Case Management Schedule. Pursuant to Civil Rule 37, before filing any discovery motions, counsel shall make reasonable efforts to resolve the dispute(s) on their own. If counsel cannot resolve a discovery dispute, the parties should request a status conference to discuss outstanding issues.
III. Motions and Memoranda
- When appropriate, please indicate whether opposing counsel agrees with the motion and, additionally, counsel must submit a proposed entry for the Court’s consideration for all motions filed. It is necessary to obtain leave of court prior to filing a motion or memorandum out of rule or beyond the deadline set in the Case Management schedule. Leave to file motions late in a case may jeopardize the trial date and may be denied for that reason alone. No stipulation among counsel will change any deadline absent court approval. Please follow Local Rule 11 (PDF) regarding proper motions procedures and practice including, but not limited to, page limitations and correct motion titles.
- The Court will enforce page limitations, pursuant to Local Rule 12 (PDF), and will consider a motion for leave to file a brief in excess of the page limits only where good cause is shown. The Court reserves the right to disregard pages of memoranda beyond the limits set forth in the local rules, absent prior leave of court.
- Questions regarding technical issues with the Court’s e-filing system should be directed to the Court’s e-filing hotline at 614-525-2600.
- All motions to withdraw as counsel from a case should comply with Local Rule 18 (PDF). Motions to withdraw should be accompanied by a proposed order granting the motion that also includes the address where the Clerk should forward all information.
- Motions in limine should only be filed after discussion in good faith among counsel, and after counsel certify they have met and exhausted efforts to resolve the issues. Motions in limine must be filed at least 14 days before trial, absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances. Motions will be heard orally on the morning of trial, unless counsel requests a ruling in advance of trial.
IV. Continuances or Amended Case Schedules
- Continuances should be requested as soon as possible and will be granted only for good cause shown. Before contacting the Court regarding continuances, counsel should speak with one another. Once the Court is contacted, please advise whether a request for continuance is agreed or opposed. If the continuance is unopposed, then submit an agreed entry. Agreed requests are preferred. Motions to continue must specify:
- How many, if any, prior continuances have been granted
- The length of time needed
- The reason for the continuance
- Whether the continuance is opposed
- In criminal cases, motions for a continuance may be filed electronically; however, entries for continuance must be executed by all parties in paper form. Counsel is encouraged to give the Court any advance notice for a request for continuance.
- Settlements are favored and parties are expected to negotiate in good faith in attempting to reach a resolution of a matter prior to trial. If the parties agree to mediate, then counsel should advise the Court promptly and request a referral for mediation. At the request of a party and when appropriate, Judge Cocroft will refer a matter to Magistrate Elizabeta Saken for mediation.
- Counsel shall notify the Court immediately upon settling a case. Counsel should not wait until a release has been fully executed or settlement payments have been made to inform the Court of settlement. Upon notice of settlement the Court will file a Settled Entry to Follow Order, allowing the parties 20 days to finalize settlement and submit the appropriate dismissal/settlement entry. In matters requiring approval from the Probate Court or other unusual circumstances, more time will be allotted.
- If the final entry or stipulation of dismissal is not timely received, the Court will dismiss the case from the active docket pursuant to Local Rule 25.03 (PDF). The parties may thereafter file a subsequent/amended dismissal entry reflecting the terms of their agreement.
VI. Trial Procedures
- 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 "firm" trial date with the Court’s calendar.
- Generally, trials will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will end at 4:30 p.m. though the Court understands that this schedule is dependent upon other factors that are sometimes beyond the control of the Court and counsel. There will be an hour break for lunch around Noon, with additional breaks during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Foreseeable delays or scheduling conflicts should be raised by counsel at the final pre-trial.
- Proposed jury instructions, verdict forms and/or interrogatories should be emailed in Microsoft Word format before the start of trial to the Staff Attorney (civil cases) or Bailiff (criminal cases). Counsel shall confer and prepare a final version to be submitted to the Court in a single document for each proposed jury instruction, verdict form and/or interrogatory. Rulings on objections for instructions or interrogatories will be made after submission to the Court.
- Judge Cocroft will ask preliminary questions of the prospective panel prior to initial inquiry from counsel. Each party will be given approximately one hour to conduct their questioning of the prospective panel. At the conclusion of voir dire, challenges as to the prospective panel will be made outside the presence of the jurors.
Once a member of the prospective panel is struck (either for cause or due to a peremptory challenge), that juror position will be filled by the next sequential juror in numerical order.
- Because many documents submitted in residential foreclosures have not been properly authenticated under the Rules of Civil Procedure, additional safeguards are necessary to protect the validity of any judgment that might ensue. Accordingly, before any judgment is granted on any dispositive motion (for either default or summary judgment) in a residential foreclosure action, plaintiff’s counsel must personally certify the authenticity and accuracy of all documents submitted in support of judgment.
- Where no certification is submitted, or where the submitted certification is not acceptable to the court, the dispositive motion will be overruled and the case will be scheduled for trial within ninety days.
- Judge Cocroft requires the Attorney Certification (DOCX).