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Pretrial & Trials

The Court will hold a settlement conference after the discovery cutoff date. Settlement conference may be combined with the final pretrial conference. Pursuant to the provisions of LR 16.2, the Court requires that the Joint Pretrial Order be filed one week prior to the final pretrial conference. Witnesses may be added to the final pretrial order only by motion. The Court uses a date certain. The final pretrial conference is typically held two weeks prior to trial. Adjournments of trial dates are rarely granted. Date conflicts must be resolved at the final pretrial conference. Attorneys who have a conflict with another trial must notify the Court in writing as soon as possible. In cases of conflict, the Court will require another member of the attorney's firm to conduct the trial. Judge Cook routinely becomes involved in settlement negotiations in jury cases. He may refer non-jury matters to another Judge, a Magistrate Judge, or an independent Mediator for settlement conference. He may also become involved in the settlement of non-jury cases, but on a limited basis. Prior to the final pretrial conference, he is amenable to scheduling a settlement conference if the request is made early. On the date of the trial, Judge Cook will not delay commencement of trial for purpose of a settlement conference. He requires that exhibits be exchanged seven days prior to trial and that they be marked with numbers for plaintiff(s) and letters for defendant(s). Counsel retains custody of exhibits during trial and pending appeal. Trial briefs must be exchanged seven days prior to trial. There is no special form for motions in limine. Motions in limine must be filed two weeks before trial. Motions in limine are generally heard on the morning of trial.

a. Non-Jury Trial

In non-jury trials, proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law must be filed on the first day of trial. Generally, Judge Cook makes his findings of fact in writing and not from the bench.

b. Jury Trial

Judge Cook generally uses two alternate jurors. Alternate jurors are informed of their status prior to the conclusion of trial. Trial counsel are not permitted to conduct voir dire. Requests for specific voir dire must be submitted in writing seven days prior to trial. In civil cases the Court allows three peremptory challenges for the six person panel and one for alternates. In criminal trials, the Court permits ten peremptory challenges for the defendant and six for the Government. The Court will handle challenges in such a manner that the jurors will not know which party has excused them. Jury instructions must be filed seven days prior to trial.

c. Miscellaneous

The Court does not allow out of state counsel, not admitted in the Eastern District, to practice upon a special motion unless counsel complies with E.D. Mich. LR 83.20 . The Court generally holds trial on a daily basis between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The Court will allow multiple counsel for one party. The Court imposes a time limitation of one hour each for opening statements and closing arguments. There are no time limitations imposed on direct or cross-examination. The Court requires counsel to request permission to approach a witness or the bench. A jury is charged after final arguments and counsel of record does not have a choice of having the jury charged before final arguments. Each juror is given a copy of instructions to take in the jury room during deliberation. Jurors are allowed to take notes during trial. If requested by counsel of record, the Court would not allow jurors to take notes in a simple case, but is amenable otherwise.

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