United States Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
For additional information, contact chambers at (570) 207-5780.
Judicial Assistant: (570) 207-5780
Chambers: (570) 207-5780
Written correspondence from counsel to the court
Judge Munley does not permit correspondence from counsel. To bring a matter to the judge’s attention, a motion should be filed through the district’s electronic filing system. As explained below, however, discovery disputes must be raised through a telephone call to chambers as no written discovery motions are permitted without court approval.
Communication between counsel and your law clerks
Judge Munley does not allow communications between counsel and her law clerks. Counsel may not seek legal advice or other substantive information from the law clerks. Counsel should address all questions regarding scheduling and procedures to the case administrator, Sylvia Murphy.
Preference for the use of telephone conferences rather than in-person conferences that you schedule in connection with a case
Telephone conferences are used by Judge Munley for such matters as discovery conferences or scheduling matters. Settlement/pretrial conferences are held in-person with all attorneys, parties and representatives present.
For other questions, contact chambers at (570) 207-5780.
Courtesy copies of motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers
Judge Munley directs counsel NOT to provide courtesy copies of motions, briefs, or other writings. All documents should be filed on the court’s case management/electronic case filing system.
For questions of procedure, contact chambers at (570) 207-5780.
Requirement of a formal motion for pro hac vice admissions
Judge Munley requires a formal motion for pro hac vice admissions.
Approach to in limine motions
Judge Munley has a special rule regarding motions in limine. All motions in limine including those involving the challenge of expert witness testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharma., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and supporting briefs are due fourteen (14) days prior to the pretrial conference. Briefs in opposition to the motions in limine, including Daubert motions, are due seven (7) days prior to the pretrial conference. The court will not accept briefs longer than six (6) pages, double spaced.
Daubert/expert witness issues: Under Daubert and Federal Rule of Evidence 702, the court has an obligation to evaluate the reliability of expert testimony “where such testimony’s factual basis, data, principles, methods, or their application are called sufficiently into question.” Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 149 (1999). The court, however, will not conduct an evidentiary hearing on every Daubert motion.
The party challenging this evidence must address the issue at the expert witness’s deposition. If the expert has not been deposed, the complaining party must depose the expert. A copy of the deposition transcript, expert report(s), affidavit(s), if any, and the party’s brief outlining the basis for their objection to the testimony, with references to page and line numbers of the deposition transcript, are due fourteen (14) days prior to the pretrial conference. The brief in opposition to the Daubert motion is due seven (7) days prior to the pretrial conference. The court will not accept briefs longer than six (6) pages, double-spaced.
As time is of the essence, the court will not address any motion in limine, including Daubert motions, if they are not timely filed.
Oral arguments and evidentiary hearings
Standard form of scheduling order and the extent to which scheduling orders are changed to accommodate particular cases
Judge Munley considers the input of counsel in determining the length of the discovery period, trial dates, etc.
Federal Rule 26 and M.D. Pa. Local Rule 26.1 (including your approach to initial disclosures, discovery prior to the Rule 16 conference) and preferences as to the matters encompassed within those Rules.
Judge Munley follows the procedures set forth in Local Rule 26.1 regarding depositions and discovery. The parties are encouraged to commence discovery, including initial disclosures, as early as practicable. The parties need not wait for the case management conference to begin discovery.
The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
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 Munley typically allows 90 to 120 days from the date of the case management conference for discovery. This standard will be deviated from only upon good cause shown. This timeframe should be sufficient to complete discovery in most cases.
Preferred approach and procedures for handling discovery conferences and disputes
Initially, Judge Munley entertains all discovery disputes via a telephone conference. Written discovery motions are not permitted. If a discovery dispute arises, the parties should meet and attempt to resolve the issue. If the parties are unable to work out the issue, they should telephone the judge’s case administrator, Sylvia Murphy, who will schedule a telephonic discovery conference.
Handling of confidentiality agreements
Judge Munley reviews confidentiality agreements in the context of discovery and approves of such on a case-by-case basis.
Approach to requests for additional pages in excess of the page limitation set forth in Local Rule 7.8
Generally, Judge Munley believes that most issues can be briefed within the page limitations set forth in the local rules. Leave for additional pages will be granted when appropriate. The request for additional pages should note the number of pages needed as required by the local rules.
Particular guidance regarding pretrial memoranda
Pretrial memoranda should be filed prior to the pretrial conference in the manner provided for in Appendix B of the Local Rules. Additionally, the parties should meet prior to the pretrial conference to discuss settlement and file a separate document indicating the status of settlement discussions.
Use of different pretrial memorandum format from that included with the Middle District Local Rules
The parties should use the pretrial memoranda format found in Appendix B of the Local Rules.
Procedure for scheduling trials
At the pretrial conference, Judge Munley, with the input of counsel, assigns a date certain for trial. The amount of time between the pretrial conference and the trial is dependent on the schedules of the judge and counsel.
How the needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses are accommodated
Judge Munley makes every effort to accommodate the needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys or witnesses.
Practice for the receipt of expert witness written reports
Judge Munley prefers to receive the written reports of expert witnesses prior to the pretrial conference.
Trial briefs submitted by counsel
Judge Munley prefers counsel submit trial briefs in every case. The date for filing the trial brief will be scheduled at the pretrial conference.
Counsel participation in voir dire
Judge Munley does preliminary voir dire questioning. Counsel is then allowed to conduct a reasonable amount of additional questions. Proposed voir dire questions should be submitted pursuant to the court’s scheduling order.
Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions, including the form of jury instructions, and any divergence from the number of jury instructions permitted by the Middle District local rules.
Judge Munley requires proposed instructions to be filed before trial. The deadline for filing proposed jury instructions is set at the pretrial conference. Judge Munley is liberal with the number of proposed instructions that may be offered. The proposed instructions should address only liability and damages. To the extent possible, the citations in support of the instructions should refer to the Third Circuit Model Instructions.
Time limits, if any, for opening and closing statements at trial
Judge Munley sets time limits based upon the amount of time the parties need. Thus, the time limits vary by case.
Preference regarding whether counsel examine witnesses from counsel table or elsewhere, including whether counsel should remain seated while examining witnesses
Judge Munley permits counsel to question witnesses from wherever counsel is most comfortable.
Whether more than one attorney may handle trial for a party
Judge Munley allows more than one attorney to handle a trial. Judge Munley prefers that one attorney examine each witness, including objections made during the witness’s testimony and arguments to such objections.
Particular practices for handling sidebar conferences
Judge Munley has no particular practice for sidebar conferences except that such conferences should be kept to a minimum.
Special requirements for introducing videotaped testimony
Judge Munley requires that objections to such testimony be resolved before the testimony is admitted. The attorneys should attempt to resolve objections themselves and only those which cannot be worked out should be brought to the court’s attention. Additionally, counsel should provide the judge with a copy of the transcript prior to the start of the trial.
Pre-marking of documentary and photographic exhibits
Judge Munley prefers pre-marking exhibits as required by the Local Rules.
Preferred procedure for the moving of exhibits into evidence at trial
Judge Munley has no preference.
Examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross
Judge Munley will allow such examination on a very limited basis when warranted.
Special requirements for reading of depositions or other materials into the record at trial
Judge Munley has no special requirements except that the parties provide her with a copy of depositions that are to be read into the record at trial.
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 Munley does not require a written motion.
Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions
Judge Munley requires proposed instructions be filed before trial. The deadline for filing proposed jury instructions is set at the pretrial conference. Judge Munley is liberal with the number of proposed instructions that may be offered. The proposed instructions should address only liability and damages. To the extent possible, the parties should cite to the Third Circuit Model Instructions.
Note-taking by jurors
If a trial is expected to last more than two (2) days, jurors will be allowed to take notes. Note taking is not permitted, however, during the judge’s charge.
Whether the jury may take exhibits into the jury room
Generally, Judge Munley allows counsel to agree on which exhibits, if any, should go to the jury. Judge Munley will resolve any disputes regarding whether an exhibit should go into the jury room.
Written verdict forms in the form of interrogatory questions to the jury
Judge Munley uses interrogatories on the verdict form in most civil cases. Judge Munley accepts input from counsel and expects the submission of proposed verdict slips. Judge Munley generally, however, prepares her own verdict slip.
Written jury instructions provided to the jury
Judge Munley does not provide written instructions to the jury.
Requirements as to counsel’s whereabouts
Judge Munley requires counsel to remain close to the courthouse during jury deliberations so that they may return quickly for the verdict or jury questions. In order to be reached in a timely manner, counsel must provide their cell phone number to the courtroom deputy and law clerk.
Whether counsel may speak with the jurors after a verdict
Counsel are directed not to initiate any communication with jurors without first receiving consent or approval of the court pursuant to Local Rule 83.4.
Jury requests for review of testimony or recorded evidence
Judge Munley does not favor such requests and handles them very strictly.
Handling request for temporary restraining orders
After a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) has been assigned to Judge Munley, her case administrator, Sylvia Murphy, will contact plaintiff’s attorney. Plaintiff’s attorney will be directed to immediately serve the TRO and identify the defense attorney if possible. Subsequent to serving defense counsel with the TRO, plaintiff’s attorney should contact chambers so that a telephone conference can be scheduled.
As to injunctions, whether expedited discovery
Judge Munley may allow expedited discovery and briefing on a motion for preliminary injunction if the parties request it. Otherwise, Judge Munley follows the briefing schedule stated in L.R 7.5-7.8. Additionally, Judge Munley may allow post-hearing briefs.
General approach to mediation matters
Judge Munley encourages parties to consider mediation and supports the district’s mediation program.
General approach to settlement and non-jury cases and use of magistrate judges
Judge Munley involves herself in the settlement of cases involving jury trials. She refers non-jury cases to a magistrate judge for settlement purposes.
Variance in practice and procedures between criminal cases and civil cases
Judge Munley has no notable variation in the practices and procedures of civil cases and criminal cases.
Particular procedures as to magistrate judge reports
Judge Munley has no particular procedures with regard to magistrate judge reports.
Approach to media communications
Judge Munley has no particular practice with regard to media communications.
Particular approach or practices regarding pro se matters
Judge Munley approaches pro se matters in a manner similar to how counseled cases are handled.
Particular approach or practices regarding default proceedings
Judge Munley has no particular approach or practice regarding default proceedings.
Judge Munley expects proper courtroom attire from all parties and counsel. Additionally, Judge Munley expects all parties and counsel to be punctual for scheduled courtroom appearances. In the event of an emergency, kindly contact chambers.