Civil Practice guidelines

I. General

For questions relating to civil matters, please contact the Judge’s staff attorney.

II. Status and Pretrial Conferences

  1. Status Conferences. The Court will hold an initial status conference for all civil matters with the exception of foreclosure cases.
    1. A representative counsel for each party is required to appear at the initial status conference unless arrangements are made at least 24 hours prior to the conference date, to conduct the status conference by phone.
    2. Telephone appearances are permitted for initial status conferences only, at the Court’s permission and discretion, and subject to the following conditions:
  • The requesting party must contact all counsel and unrepresented parties to obtain global consent to a telephone conference. All counsel and unrepresented parties must attend by telephone. Absent compelling circumstances, the Court will not conduct a status conference with some participants appearing in person and others appearing by phone.
  • Once all participants have consented to a telephone conference, the requesting party must email the Court’s staff attorney to confirm the same; all counsel and unrepresented parties must be copied to the email. Until the staff attorney has sent a reply email confirming that the initial status conference will be conducted by telephone at the allotted time - or a formal order is entered on the docket - all counsel and unrepresented parties are required to appear for the conference as originally scheduled.
  • If a telephonic conference is permitted, the requesting party will be required to initiate the call. The initiating party must have all other participants on the line before contacting the Court at the time and number directed.
  • The time of the status conference is changed from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or, in the event that more than one telephone conference is scheduled for any given day, the next available thirty-minute time-slot.
  • Unless otherwise requested, and upon good cause shown, all telephonic status conferences are conducted by the staff attorney.
  • As this process requires consultation with the Court and its staff attorney, the Court encourages attorneys and unrepresented parties that wish to conduct an initial status conference by telephone to contact the Court rather than file a formal motion.

3.  Any party who believes that a status conference would be beneficial to their case should reach out to the staff attorney who will provide the Court’s availability. Generally, civil status conferences are held Monday through Thursday at 9:00 a.m.

   2.  Pretrial Conferences. A pretrial conference will be held in all civil cases.

  • Representative counsel for each party is required to appear for final pretrial conferences. Clients are not required to appear, unless otherwise noted.
  • Final pretrial conferences will not be held by phone.
  • Pretrial statements are not required.
  • The Court does not issue a pretrial order unless a request to do so is made pursuant to Civ.R. 16.

III. Discovery 

  1. The parties are required to make genuine efforts to resolve all discovery disputes without the Court’s assistance. If the parties are unable to resolve the conflict, contact the staff attorney and a discovery status conference will be scheduled. The Court will advise the parties if briefing of the issue is necessary.

IV. Motions and Memoranda

  1. Please see Section VII of the Seventh Amended Administrative Order for guidance on the electronic filing of motions and memoranda.
  2. In the event that the matter requires more urgent attention, counsel shall promptly notify the staff attorney. The Court strongly encourages advance discussion with opposing counsel prior to filing time-sensitive motions to seek agreements/stipulations on both the subject of the motion and any briefing deadlines.

V. Continuances or Amended Case Schedules

  1. All requests for a continuance or amendment to the case schedule shall be made by written motion e-filed with the Clerk of Courts.
  2. Prior to filing any motion to continue, counsel shall make efforts to speak with opposing counsel first to ascertain whether any objection to the request will be made. Within the motion, counsel should clearly advise the Court as to whether any request for continuances are agreed or opposed.
  3. Pursuant to the Seventh Amended Administrative Order, the motion should be accompanied by separately filed proposed order in word document format.

VI. Mediation

  1. Mediations or settlement conferences can be arranged for any civil matter upon agreement by all parties. Both Magistrate Watters or Judge Holbrook are available to mediate cases. Contact the staff attorney for scheduling. No mediation statements are required

VII. Trial Procedures

  1. Proposed Jury Instructions and Interrogatories. In all cases tried to a jury, the parties shall submit a single joint set of proposed instructions and interrogatories to the Court. Each instruction and interrogatory shall be set forth on a separate page and shall be numbered, and shall bear a footnote with a citation of authority in support of the instruction. Any dispute between the parties as to the substance of an instruction shall be noted in redline. The joint proposed jury instructions, interrogatories and verdict forms shall be submitted to the staff attorney in MS Word format no later than one week prior to the trial date.
  2. Motions in Limine. Motions in limine shall be filed no later than one week prior to the trial date. If the motion in limine is granted, it is the duty of counsel to instruct associates, clients, witnesses, and other persons under their control that no mention or display be made in the presence of the jury of the matter that is the subject of the motion.
  3. Trial Schedule. Unless otherwise stated, trial will start daily at 10:30 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. Breaks will take place for lunch and as needed.
  4. Courtroom Technology. The parties are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the courtroom technology in advance of trial. Arrangements for access to the courtroom can be made by contacting the staff attorney. Please also see the Evidence Cart Reference Guides,

VIII. Settlement 

  1. Consistent with Local Rule 22, Counsel should reach out to 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.