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.