The new Franklin County Courthouse, scheduled for completion in 2010, will be the first LEED-certified building in the State of Ohio. Click here to learn more.The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas is a stong supporter of Green initiatives. Click here to learn more.

Magistrate Elizabeta P. Saken

Common Pleas Courthouse
345 South High Street, Courtroom 4D
Columbus, OH 43215
Magistrate for Judge O'Donnell and Judge Cocroft

This Courtroom has an Audio/Video Digital Recording System.

CONTACTS
Direct (optional): (614) 525-6286
Facsimile: (614) 525-4641
email: Elizabeta_Saken@fccourts.org
IMPORTANT INFORMATION RELATED TO COVID-19:

Due to the continued threat of COVID-19, the Court has developed protocols designed to protect public health while maintaining essential court functions. To reduce the number of people coming to the courthouse on any given week, the Court is implementing a rotating docket schedule starting on June 1, 2020, related to in-person courtroom proceedings. Please refer to the Court’s Fourth Amended General Order in Response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Public Health Emergency for the on-site week schedule and additional information related to the Court’s protocols and practices.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s guidance to local courts encourages us to leverage technology to hold hearings remotely whenever possible. To the extent you have a hearing scheduled with Magistrate Saken during an on-site week and either a party, counsel or witness has a health condition or risk factor that places them at a higher risk of adverse health consequences due to exposure to COVID-19, please reach out to Magistrate Saken via e-mail at elizabeta_saken@fccourts.org as soon as possible to request that the hearing be conducted remotely via Zoom.

Regardless of the format of your hearing (in-person or via Zoom), ALL exhibits must be e-mailed to Magistrate Saken and to opposing counsel as PDF attachments no later than 3 days prior to the hearing date so we can limit the handling and passing around of any paper exhibits.

Please also note that ALL mediations scheduled with Magistrate Saken will be conducted remotely via Zoom. Please see the attached information sheet with additional instructions about the remote format of your mediation and contact the Magistrate via e-mail if you have any questions.

Finally, please note that facemasks are required for all Court personnel and for anyone coming to the courthouse. Plexiglass barriers have also been installed in courtroom 4D.
PREFERENCES AND PRACTICES
General
The Magistrate has an open-door policy for any procedural matters that require assistance but no ex parte communication is allowed. Please contact the other side before contacting the Magistrate on any issues. Be sure to copy opposing counsel/parties on any e-mails or correspondence directed to the Magistrate.

When possible (provided it does not adversely affect your client’s interests), extend professional courtesies and work with each other to agree on procedural/scheduling requests and stipulate to matters not in dispute to avoid unnecessary delay. Your respective clients’ interests are best served by a timely resolution of a legal dispute.

Self-represented litigants: If you choose to represent yourself, you are presumed to have knowledge of the law and legal procedures, and you will be held to the same standard as a litigant who is represented by an attorney. Ohio cases establish that you are not entitled to any greater constitutional protections than litigants who are represented by counsel, and all procedural and evidentiary rules will be applied equally regardless of whether you have counsel. Please also note that, although you may represent yourself if you choose to do so, you may not represent your child, spouse or any corporate entity that you are an owner or member of (even if you’re the sole owner/member).

Please turn off or silence your cell phones and electronic devices when you enter the courtroom.
Professionalism, Courtroom Decorum and Dress
Professionalism, civility and proper courtroom decorum are expected at all times. Be on time, be prepared, and be courteous and respectful toward each other, your clients and Court personnel.

Please see the Ohio Supreme Court’s “Professionalism DOs and DON’Ts” with respect to “Professionalism in the Courtroom” and “Working With Opposing Counsel and Other Lawyers.

Counsel: Your attire enhances the dignity of the Court and emphasizes the seriousness of your responsibility. Professional attire is expected by your client and the Court.

Parties/Self-represented litigants: You should dress appropriately for your court appearance. Please note that shorts, tank tops, crop tops, hats and clothing with offensive language/pictures are considered inappropriate attire for the courtroom.
Status Conferences
Status conferences (in person or via telephone) can be scheduled when necessary and at counsel’s request.
Motions/Briefs
Please consult the latest version of the Administrative Order pertaining to issues and questions related to motions practice and e-Filing in civil cases.

Administrative Order
Current as of February 27, 2019)

All motions should be accompanied by proposed orders. Agreed/unopposed motions should be accompanied by proposed orders e-signed by all attorneys who have approved the same. Proposed orders should be submitted through the e-Filing System as separate, stand-alone entries in word document format (not PDF). Please make sure that the motion being granted (or denied) is clearly identified in the title of your proposed order.

Please note that the submitting counsel is responsible for the prompt service of any proposed orders submitted through the e-Filing System upon unregistered parties. According to the terms of the Administrative Order related to e-Filing, the party submitting a proposed order/entry shall, after the order/entry has been signed and e-Filed, print out a copy of the same and mail it to all non-registered parties on the case. The only orders/entries served by the Court upon unregistered parties are those that are generated by the Court.

Counsel should make all reasonable efforts to resolve disputes between themselves. If that is not possible, counsel should consider requesting a status conference prior to filing a motion, especially if it is a discovery-related dispute. Everyone involved is happier when filing wars are avoided.

Please refer to our Local Rules for proper motions practice procedures and requirements, including page limitations.
Continuances
Please be aware of the referring Judge’s policies related to continuances. Continuances of trial dates will be granted upon the approval of the assigned/referring Judge.

Continuance requests pertaining to mediations or evidentiary hearings should be brought to the Magistrate’s attention as soon as possible. Such requests shall also be accompanied by a written motion and a proposed order. The motion shall inform the Magistrate of the reason for the request, the length of continuance requested and whether the request is opposed.

Counsel shall also e-mail the Magistrate to alert her of the request and copy all other counsel and/or parties to the e-mail. When appropriate, the Magistrate will respond to the e-mail with available dates. Please note the dates offered are NOT blocked off until all involved advise that a given date works with everyone’s schedule. Continuances are granted by the Court and not by agreement of the parties.
Amendment to Case Scheduling Order
Reasonable requests will be granted upon approval of the assigned/referring Judge. Please be aware of the referring Judge’s policies related to amended case schedules.
Preliminary Injunctions
Preliminary injunctions are governed by Civ.R. 65. Please see “Evidentiary hearing” section below for additional information.
Damages Hearings
Please be prepared to have a witness present testimony and evidentiary documents to justify your request for damages. Plaintiff must meet the burden of proof even if a default judgment was granted and no one is contesting the matter. A damages hearing is an evidentiary hearing and the Rules of Evidence apply.

If you are requesting attorney fees as a part of your damages request, be sure to itemize and document the amount requested and establish the reasonableness of the amount. Also, be sure to demonstrate whether the request for attorney fees emanates from a contract or statute.
Evidentiary Hearings
If you are the plaintiff, please be prepared to have a witness present testimony and evidentiary documents to meet your burden of proof. If you are the defendant, please be prepared to have a witness present testimony and evidentiary documents to defend against the claims asserted against you.

Please have exhibits pre-marked and ready to present; plaintiff should mark exhibits with letters and defendant should mark exhibits with numbers.
Mediation/Settlement
Mediation statements are helpful but not required. If submitted timely, they will be reviewed in preparation for the mediation.

If the case involves an insurance claims adjustor or a corporate client, those representatives must be present for the mediation, with authority to settle. Participation via telephone will be granted only under exigent circumstances and with prior approval of opposing counsel and the Court.
Stenographic and Recording Equipment
JAVS: Proceedings in Courtroom 4D are recorded through the JAVS audio/video digital recording system. Transcript requests from the JAVS system should be directed to the Assignment Office (345 S. High Street, 2nd Floor).

Evidence Cart: An evidence cart must be requested and reserved in advance if you intend to use one during a hearing/trial. Please contact Paul Hester at 614-525-7587 to request an evidence cart and to schedule a tutorial session on how to properly use the cart. Please do not assume that equipment will be available for playing video depositions. If you plan to show a video deposition, you must arrange for the video equipment and videographer.

Objections to Magistrate’s Decision
Objections to the Magistrate’s decisions are governed by Civ.R. 53 and Loc.R. 99.



TRIAL
General
All pre-trial statements must be filed no later than seven days prior to trial.

Any preliminary matters are to be addressed outside the hearing of the jurors and shall be first brought to the Magistrate’s attention in chambers.

The Magistrate has a standard set of “boilerplate” instructions covering the burden of proof, credibility of witnesses, rules for deliberating and other topics that are common to civil trials. Trial counsel shall discuss, prepare and submit the case-specific portions of the jury instructions, shall identify the OJI sections that support the instructions and, if applicable, shall identify where those instructions deviate from the standard OJI instructions. The proposed jury instructions, verdict forms and/or interrogatories must be e-mailed (in Word document format) to the Magistrate at Elizabeta_Saken@fccourts.org no later than seven days prior to the trial date. Counsel are encouraged to work together and submit agreed-upon jury instructions, verdict forms and/or interrogatories. To the extent joint jury instructions, verdict forms and/or interrogatories are not possible, counsel should e-mail their respective set to the Magistrate, clearly note which portions are in dispute and provide case citations to support their respective versions.

Counsel shall not argue their objections in front of the jurors.
Final Pre-Trial Conferences/Final Pre-Trial Orders
Final pre-trial orders are issued shortly after a case has been referred to the Magistrate for trial. The final pre-trial orders address topics including pre-trial statements, motions in limine, exhibits, stipulations and voir dire. If necessary, counsel may request a final pre-trial conference to address anything not covered by the pre-trial order.
Exhibits
Counsel should pre-mark and exchange all exhibits prior to trial. Plaintiff should mark exhibits with letters and defendant should mark exhibits with numbers. Counsel should also ensure that sufficient copies of the exhibits have been prepared (at least three sets - witness, Magistrate, opposing counsel). Counsel are encouraged to eliminate duplicate exhibits and designate “joint exhibits” when appropriate. Counsel are responsible for electronically filing proposed exhibits prior to trial and/or admitted exhibits within three days after the conclusion of trial.
Stipulations
Stipulations are helpful and preferred when possible.
Use of Videotapes
Please note that videotapes cannot be edited by the Court but must be edited by the parties prior to trial. Any objections to videotaped depositions must be brought to the Magistrate’s attention well in advance of trial to ensure the objections are ruled upon and the videotape edited prior to trial.
Motions in Limine
Motions in limine must be e-filed no later than 14 days prior to the trial date, with any responses from opposing counsel due seven days after the motion filing date. Motions in limine are typically discouraged, and should only be filed after counsel have engaged in good faith discussions and certify to the Court that they have exhausted all reasonable efforts to resolve the dispute. Motions in limine will be heard orally on the morning of trial.
Method for Voir Dire
Juror questionnaires are typically available on the morning of trial. Jurors are allowed to make a brief statement about themselves before counsel conducts voir dire. The Magistrate will provide a brief description of the case and ask preliminary questions, and counsel will then question the entire array of prospective jurors. Challenges are addressed outside of the hearing of the jurors. Once a juror has been stricken (either peremptory or for cause), his/her position will be filled by the next available juror in numerical order after the first eight “in the box”, i.e., starting with juror #9.
Jurors
Eight jurors will be selected, along with two alternates. Jurors will be allowed to take notes during trial.