Written correspondence from
counsel to the court.
Judge Muir discourages written correspondence from counsel. A simple motion
with certificate of concurrence or non-concurrence is always preferable to
Preference for the
use of telephone conferences rather than in-person conferences for any
category of conferences scheduled in connection with a case.
Judge Muir prefers case management conferences be conducted by telephone
rather than in person.
Courtesy copies of
motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers.
Judge Muir requires that counsel comply with the local rule that provides
for the filing of an original and two copies with the clerk of court; he
does not desire courtesy copies.
Federal Rule 26 and
M.D. Pa. Local Rule 26.1 et seq. (including your approach to initial
disclosures, discovery prior to the Rule 16 conference) and preferences as
to the matters encompassed within those Rules.
Judge Muir follows Federal Rule 16 and Local Rule 26.1 et seq., generally
relying in large measure on voluntary disclosures and timing set forth in
the parties' proposed case management plan where feasible.
The extent to which
counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial
Judge Muir considers counsel's views as to length of discovery period,
extension thereof, and trial list. If counsel is in trial in another court,
not merely attached for trial, when a case is called before Judge Muir, he
will defer the case until that other trial has ended. If a case in another
court is called for trial on the same day that it is called for trial before
Judge Muir, he will also defer to the other court. Judge Muir attempts to
adjust trial dates for previously arranged vacations of counsel and
important witnesses. Judge Muir excuses jurors for previously arranged
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 Muir reports that he normally allows about 13-1/2 months for discovery
in a case scheduled for trial 15 months after filing. Judge Muir sets the
discovery cutoff at about two and one-half months ahead
of the final pre-trial conference. With the concurrence of both counsel,
Judge Muir will normally extend discovery for good cause for a short period
confidentiality agreements, particularly in light of the Third Circuit's
recent opinions on the prerequisites for imposing confidentiality
Judge Muir reports that he has not been confronted with this issue. As a
matter of course, he seals confidentiality agreements on joint motion,
subject to any appropriate challenge. If a challenge is made, Judge Muir
will comply with Pansy v. Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772 (3d Cir. 1991), and
Glenmede Trust Co. v. Thompson, 56 F.3d 476 (3d Cir. 1995).
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 scheduled.
Judge Muir normally schedules trials on a trailing monthly trial list. He
indicates that assignment of a date certain for a trial is almost always
impracticable, if not impossible.
submitted by counsel.
Judge Muir prefers "modest" trial briefs if there are
participation in voir dire.
Judge Muir asks the standard voir dire questions from his bench book. He
then allows counsel to ask supplemental voir dire questions that have been
previously submitted and that have not been tentatively disallowed by Judge
Muir. Judge Muir allows counsel to request reconsideration of any questions
submitted by opposing counsel that were tentatively approved by him. After
all approved questions have been asked by counsel, they may argue for a
reversal of the questions tentatively disapproved.
Whether more than
one attorney may handle trial for a party.
Judge Muir permits more than one attorney to handle trial but permits only
one attorney to ask all questions of a particular witness.
documentary and photographic exhibits and other demonstrative evidence for
trial and the date upon which exchange of exhibits is to take place, if any.
As required by the local rules, Judge Muir requires pre-marking of exhibits
prior to trial. The pages of multiple-page documents must be numbered or
dated. If dated, they should be arranged in chronological order.
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.
Judge Muir requires that points for charge be submitted at the start of the
trial and allows them to be supplemented for matters arising during the
trial, which could not have been reasonably anticipated. Judge Muir decides
the number of points for charge at the final pre-trial conference in a civil
case after consultation with counsel and is usually generous. Judge Muir
sets no limitation on the number of points for charge in a criminal case.
forms (in the form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
Generally, but not always, Judge Muir uses special verdict questions. He
attempts to use counsels' proposed special verdict questions, revised as
General approach to
settlement and non-jury cases and use of magistrate judges.
Judge Muir will not participate in a settlement conference or encourage
settlement in any such case that is expected to be tried without a jury. He
routinely refers such matters to a magistrate judge or another district