United States Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Biographical Information
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Judicial Assistant: (570) 323-9772
Chambers: (570) 323-9772
Written correspondence from counsel to the court.
Judge Brann does not permit correspondence in lieu of formal discovery or contested motions or other substantive matters which should be made of record. Judge Brann does permit correspondence on minor uncontested matters or for the purpose of scheduling telephonic discovery conferences. All letters to the court must be filed on ECF.
Communication between counsel and your law clerks.
Judge Brann has no objection if law clerks are used as vehicles for relaying information to the court. He does not permit law clerks to give advice to counsel.
Preference for the use of telephone conferences.
Judge Brann will generally conduct telephone conferences rather than in-person conferences. Final pre-trial conferences will, however, be conducted in-person. Judge Brann requires that discovery conferences be conducted by telephone prior to the filing of a formal discovery motion.
Courtesy copies of motions, briefs and other writings for chambers.
Judge Brann prefers not to receive courtesy copies of filings.
Prefer to receive copies of appellate filings.
Judge Brann does not require copies of appellate filings
Requirement of a formal motion for pro hac vice admissions.
Judge Brann requires counsel to complete the application available on the Court’s website or in the clerk’s office.
Approach to in limine motions.
Judge Brann sets a deadline for motions in limine in the case management order. He does not permit in limine motions at trial.
Oral arguments and evidentiary hearings.
Judge Brann does not routinely hear oral argument on motions, but will consider it on request of counsel or if he believes it will assist him in deciding the motion. Judge Brann does not set aside specific days or times for oral arguments or evidentiary hearings. Arguments and hearings are scheduled on an ad hoc basis. Counsel should make a formal request for the same by way of a motion filed in accordance with the local rules.
Standard form of scheduling order and the extent to which scheduling orders are changed to accommodate particular cases.
Judge Brann employs several standard orders, copies of which appear at the end of this list of preferences. He makes accommodations when they are justified.
Federal Rule 26 and M.D. Pa. Local Rule 26.1.
Judge Brann generally follows Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 and L.R. 26.1 et. seq. as to mandatory disclosure requirements but discourages discovery prior to the Rule 16 conference.
The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
Judge Brann considers such requests on a case-by-case basis.
The average amount of time allowed for discovery in a standard track case and the extent to which the standard amount of time is varied.
Judge Brann permits eight months in a standard track case. He permits extensions of time to complete discovery when they are justified.
Preferred approach and procedures for handling discovery conferences and disputes.
Judge Brann requires counsel to alert the Court by letter filed on the docket as to any discovery dispute prior to filing a formal motion. A telephonic conference call will then be scheduled by the Court in an attempt to resolve the discovery dispute informally. If this proves unsuccessful, the parties will be directed to file a formal motion, with an anticipated formal response. In many cases, Judge Brann will refer discovery disputes to magistrate judges.
Handling of confidentiality agreements.
Judge Brann handles confidentiality agreements according to the dictates of the Third Circuit decisions and any other applicable law. See Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F. 3d 772 (3d Cir. 1994).
Approach to requests for additional pages in excess of the page limitation set forth in Local Rule 7.8.
Judge Brann considers such requests on a case-by-case basis.
Particular guidance regarding pretrial memoranda.
Judge Brann considers pretrial memoranda essential. He requests that they be filed one week in advance of the pretrial conference to permit his review of them, as noted in the initial case management order. Use of different pretrial memorandum format than that included with the Middle District Local Rules.
Judge Brann does not use a different format than is included in the local rules.
Procedure for scheduling trials.
At the initial case management conference, Judge Brann schedules trials in advance for a given month. He advises that trials may be moved within a given month and that criminal matters are given priority. Judge Brann will advise counsel as soon as possible when each case will be called for trial. He will regularly give a date certain for trial. On trial days, the Court will start at 9:30 a.m. and may sit until 5:00 p.m. or later.
How needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses are accommodated.
Judge Brann makes accommodations by allowing telephone conferences in some cases and scheduling in-person conferences so as to allow time for travel. Judge Brann also considers these factors when setting the trial date, typically at the time of the pre-trial conference.
Prefer expert witnesses scheduled to testify to provide written reports.
Judge Brann prefers that any such reports be submitted to the Court by counsel as part of their pretrial memoranda. Failure to do so will bar the use of the expert’s testimony at trial.
Trial briefs submitted by counsel.
Judge Brann generally does not require trial briefs.
Counsel participation in voir dire.
Judge Brann will conduct voir dire, but directs written submissions of proposed questions from counsel.
Time limits, if any, for opening and closing statements at trial.
Judge Brann generally does not impose time limitations for opening and closing statements.
Preference regarding whether counsel examine witnesses from counsel table or elsewhere, including whether counsel should remain seated while examining witnesses.
Judge Brann has no preference.
Whether more than one attorney may handle trial for a party.
Judge Brann allows more than one attorney to handle trial for a party. He will not permit more than one attorney for a party to examine the same witness.
Particular practices for handling sidebar conferences.
Judge Brann has no particular practices aside from discouraging repetitive and unnecessary sidebar conferences.
Special requirements for introducing videotaped testimony.
Judge Brann requires counsel to view all videotaped depositions for the purpose of editing the videotape and resolving material objections before offering the videotape as evidence. When videotaped testimony is presented, Judge Brann requires a printed transcript for submission to the record.
Pre-marking of documentary and photographic exhibits.
Judge Brann requires that all exhibits be pre-marked and exchanged with opposing counsel prior to the commencement of trial.
Preferred procedure for the moving of exhibits into evidence at trial.
Judge Brann requires that exhibits be moved into evidence at the conclusion of the examination of the witness.
Examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross.
Judge Brann does not permit examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross, unless the need is clear.
Special requirements for reading of depositions or other materials into the record at trial.
Judge Brann has no particular requirements.
Requirement of a written motion and/or brief for judgment as a matter of law or judgment on the pleadings when such motion is made during trial.
Judge Brann adopts the stance of his colleague, Judge William W. Caldwell, who does not require a written motion but suggests that it is “just good practice to file a written motion (no brief) as follow-up.”
Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions.
Judge Brann requires that proposed jury instructions be submitted one week prior to the time of the pretrial conference. He generally adheres to the number of jury instructions permitted by the local rules, with exceptions made, as deemed appropriate.
Note-taking by jurors.
Judge Brann allows note-taking by jurors.
Whether the jury may take exhibits into the jury room.
Judge Brann generally allows exhibits to be taken to the jury room, with the exception of expert reports or medical records, and subject to agreement or objection by counsel.
Written verdict forms.
Judge Brann routinely submits verdict forms. He requires counsel to submit proposed verdict forms and then prepares the final verdict form that is to be answered by the jury.
Written jury instructions provided to the jury.
Judge Brann will provide a written copy of the charge to each juror immediately before charging the jury.
Requirements as to counsel’s whereabouts.
Judge Brann requires counsel to be on standby at all times, within ten minutes of the assigned courtroom.
Whether counsel may speak with the jurors after a verdict.
Judge Brann permits counsel to speak with the jury post-verdict, although the jurors are told that they are under no obligation to speak with counsel. If there is a request to poll the jury, the courtroom deputy conducts any polls. Judge Brann will not permit polling after he has instructed his courtroom deputy to enter judgment on the verdict.
Jury requests for review of testimony or recorded evidence.
Judge Brann may grant such requests depending upon the circumstances.
Handling request for temporary restraining orders.
Judge Brann has no particular practice for requests for emergency relief, except that counsel seeking ex parte relief must be prepared to state what efforts were made to notify the opposing party or counsel of the intention to seek emergency relief.
As to injunctions, whether expedited discovery.
Judge Brann attends to all matters related to injunctions on a case-by-case basis.
General approach to mediation matters.
Judge Brann facilitates mediation when the parties indicate a willingness to mediate. When conducting mediation, he will request confidential settlement memoranda from the parties.
General approach to settlement and non-jury cases.
Judge Brann strongly encourages settlement and directs counsel to the Middle District’s mediators. He believes that the Court’s involvement in settlement conferences is generally helpful and will become involved in settlement of jury cases. Judge Brann will refer cases to magistrate judges and outside negotiators as determined by requests of the parties.
Variance in practice and procedures between criminal cases and civil cases.
Judge Brann does not vary his practice between criminal and civil cases.
Particular procedures as to magistrate judge reports.
Approach to media communications.
Since federal judges provide reasons for the decisions rendered, there is generally no need to have media communication.
Particular approach or practices regarding pro se matters.
Particular approach or practices regarding default proceedings.
It seems to me that a federal district judge should be the least memorable person in the courtroom. To that end, I believe that lawyers should be permitted to try their cases, bounded by a working knowledge of the applicable civil or criminal rules, the Federal Rules of Evidence and civility, both to the court and to one another.