Written correspondence from
counsel to the court.
Judge Vanaskie allows counsel to correspond with him provided that
all other counsel are copied. He discourages counsel from copying him with
correspondence between counsel. He prefers to receive correspondence via email
Preference for the use of telephone conferences rather than in-person conferences for any category of conferences scheduled in connection with a case.
With the exception of final pre-trial conferences and settlement, Judge Vanaskie will
conduct telephone conferences rather than in-person conferences at the request
of any party. Judge Vanaskie requires that discovery conferences be conducted
Courtesy copies of motions,
briefs, and other writings for chambers.
Judge Vanaskie discourages submission of 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 Vanaskie generally adheres to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 and
M.D. Pa. Local Rule 26.1 with the exception that he generally grants joint
requests to exceed the numerical limits on written discovery and length of
depositions. He insists upon adherence to the mandatory disclosure requirements
and generally prohibits discovery prior to the Rule 16 conference.
Judge Vanaskie prohibits the filing of discovery motions until after the
disputing parties have conferred with the Court in an effort to resolve
discovery disputes. A discovery conference will be conducted by telephone at the
request of any of the disputing parties.
The extent to which counsel
may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
Judge Vanaskie generally defers to counsel at the initial scheduling
conference with respect to the length of the discovery period. He grants
extensions of discovery deadlines, trial dates, etc., upon good cause shown.
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 Vanaskie typically allows six to eight months in a standard track case
Handling of confidentiality
agreements, particularly in light of the Third Circuit's recent opinions on the
prerequisites for imposing confidentiality agreements.
Judge Vanaskie encourages counsel to enter into confidentiality agreements
without the imprimatur of a court order.
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 scheduled.
In his standard scheduling order, Judge Vanaskie schedules cases for trial
in a particular month. Approximately five weeks before the commencement of his
civil trial term for that month, an order is issued scheduling the final
pre-trial conference and jury selection. Judge Vanaskie generally does not move
a case during the month in which it has been scheduled for trial.
Trial briefs submitted by
Judge Vanaskie prefers to have trial briefs submitted by counsel at the time
of jury selection.
Counsel participation in
Judge Vanaskie allows counsel to conduct voir dire in both criminal and
Whether more than one
attorney may handle trial for a party.
Judge Vanaskie permits 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.
As required by the local rules, Judge Vanaskie requires pre-marking of
documentary, photographic and other demonstrative evidence for trial and he
requires an exchange of exhibits prior to the pre-trial conference. If feasible,
the copies of exhibits submitted for use by Judge Vanaskie should be arranged in
a three-ring binder.
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
Judge Vanaskie generally adheres to the number of jury instructions
permitted by the local rules with exceptions made in appropriate cases.
Written verdict forms (in
the form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
Judge Vanaskie requires counsel to submit written verdict forms and he then
prepares the final verdict form that is to be answered by the jury.
General approach to
settlement and non-jury cases and use of magistrate judges.
Judge Vanaskie is actively involved in attempting to settle jury cases. He
will become involved in the settlement of non-jury cases only upon the consent
of all parties. If all parties do not consent, he will refer the case to another
judicial officer or a mediator. Judge Vanaskie
encourages the use of court-appointed mediators.