United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Chambers e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information, please call: (717) 614-4120.
Judicial Assistant: (717) 614-4120
Chambers: (717) 614-4120
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.
Courtesy copies of motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers.
With the advent of CM/ECF pleadings, the submission of courtesy copies to my chambers is no longer necessary.
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 litigation.
Handling of confidentiality agreements, particularly in light of the Third Circuit’s recent opinions on the prerequisites for imposing confidentiality agreements.
I do not encourage the use of confidentiality agreements unless the matter involves some unusually sensitive material.
Preferences regarding 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.
The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
As a general rule I anticipate giving counsel’s 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 order’s 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 counsel’s agreed upon discovery deadlines will usually be acceptable, however, these deadlines typically will not be extended, absent unusual circumstances.
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.
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 month’s 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 counsel.
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 dire.
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 court’s 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.