Written correspondence from
counsel to the court.
I am pleased to accept
letters to communicate procedural information and information about
settlement efforts, however, any application for an order, including an
application for an extension of time, must be made by motion.
Preference for the use of
telephone conferences rather than in-person conferences for any category of
conferences scheduled in connection with a case.
My practice is designed to
foster full communications in cases, while remaining mindful of the need to
avoid undue burdens on counsel. For cases involving only local counsel, I
prefer that conferences be conducted in person with counsel, although we
will conduct telephonic conferences for local counsel upon request. To avoid
undue travel expense, conferences involving counsel outside the Harrisburg
metropolitan area will be conducted telephonically unless counsel request,
or the Court directs, an in-person conference.
Federal Rule 26 and M.D. Pa.
Local Rule 26.1 et seq. (including your approach to initial disclosures,
discovery prior to Rule 16 conference) and preferences as to the matters
encompassed within those Rules.
I anticipate that the
parties will actively comply with discovery obligations as prescribed by the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the local rules in accordance with any
discovery schedules previously established in a case. If no discovery
schedule has been established in a case, then parties should continue to
actively comply with all discovery obligations pending scheduling of the
Case Management Conference, and may be required to detail discovery efforts
to date at the Case Management Conference. I stand ready at any time to
assist the parties in addressing and constructively resolving discovery
disputes. The parties should contact my office prior to filing motions to
compel or sanctions motions relating to discovery matters, so that these
matters can be efficiently resolved without the need for protracted
Courtesy copies of motions,
briefings and other pleadings for chambers.
With the advent of CM/ECF
pleadings, the submission of courtesy copies to my chambers is no longer
The extent to which counsel
may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates,
As a general rule I
anticipate giving counselís joint case management plan great weight in
setting discovery and pre-trial litigation schedules. Since I am relying on
counsel in this regard, I expect that the case management orderís dates and
deadlines normally will not be subject to extensions, once in place, unless
unusual circumstances are presented and a timely motion is made.
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.
I anticipate that six months
will be the average amount of time allotted for discovery in a standard
track case. I also expect that counselís agreed upon discovery deadlines
will usually be acceptable, however, these deadlines typically will not be
extended, absent unusual circumstances.
Handling of confidentiality
agreements, particularly in light of the Third Circuitís recent opinions on
the prerequisites for imposing confidentiality agreements.
I do not encourage the use
of confidentiality agreements unless the matter involves some unusually
requests for additional pages in excess of the page limitations set forth in
Middle District Local Rule 7.8.
I prefer that all such
requests be made by a written motion.
Procedure for scheduling
trials, including whether a date certain for trial is assigned; if so, the
amount of time prior to trial that such a date certain is assigned; and the
extent to which it may be moved during the month in which it has been
Whenever possible, I intend
to set a date certain for jury selection in the initial case management
order. I anticipate that, in case management orders, jury trials will
typically be scheduled for the third Monday of the month in order to avoid
trial scheduling conflicts. Typically, all juries for a particular month
will be selected in the order in which the cases were assigned to that
monthís trial list, and the cases will be tried in the same order in which
juries were selected. I will then schedule non-jury trials by setting a
certain date, after consulting with counsel.
Trial briefs submitted by
My practice is to call for
submission of trial briefs, as required by the local rules, prior to the
final pre-trial conferences in a case.
Counsel participation in voir
In civil cases I intend to
conduct a general voir dire and will usually allow counsel to supplement
voir dire with pre-approved questions. In criminal cases, I intend to
conduct the entire voir dire.
Whether more than one
attorney may handle trial for a party.
I am pleased to allow more
than one attorney to handle a trial for a party.
Pre-marking of documentary
and photographic exhibits and other demonstrative evidence for trial and the
date upon which exchange of exhibits is to take place, if any.
I require counsel to
pre-mark and exchange exhibits, and prepare exhibit lists of pre-marked
exhibits using the format available on the district courtís web-site at the
pre-trial conference of the attorneys conducted prior to the final pre-trial
conference with the court held under M.D.Pa. LR16.3.
Practice for the receipt of
proposed jury instructions, including the form of jury instruction, and any
divergence from the number of jury instructions permitted by the Middle
District local rules.
I require counsel to submit
proposed jury instructions in accordance with the local rules.
Written verdict form (in the
form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
I strongly encourage use of
an agreed upon special verdict slip, jointly prepared by counsel.
General approach to
settlement and non-jury cases and use of magistrate judges.
I will pursue settlement
thoroughly in jury cases, but will refer all non-jury settlement discussions
to another judge, and encourage consent before a magistrate judge.