Civil Trial Practice
A. TRIAL DATE
The Court sets a date certain for the trial at the initial Scheduling Conference after consultation with counsel. Attorneys must bring their schedules to the conference to avoid conflicts.
If issues arise regarding the date set for trial, the Court is available to conduct a status conference, either by telephone or in person, by contacting the case manager.
B. JOINT FINAL PRETRIAL ORDER
The Joint Final Pretrial Order must be submitted electronically through CM/ECF on or before the date set by the scheduling order. Counsel is directed to consult and comply with Local Rule 16.2 governing the Joint Final Pretrial Order. The proposed Final Pretrial Order shall strictly comply with the requirements of Local Rule 16.2. If plaintiffs do not convene a conference or initiate the process of completing the Joint Final Pretrial Order, or if defendants fail to respond, either party may file a Notice of Failure to Complete the Joint Final Pretrial Order on or after the date the Order is due to be filed along with their submissions for the Order. The Notice must indicate that the party filing the Notice attempted to communicate with the other parties prior to filing the Notice.
C. FINAL PRETRIAL CONFERENCE ATTENDANCE
The following persons shall personally attend the final pretrial conference:
i) Trial counsel for each party;
ii) All parties who are natural persons;
iii) A representative on behalf of any other party who has full settlement authority for the party;
iv) A representative of any insurance carrier that has undertaken the prosecution or defense of the case and has contractually reserved to itself the ability to settle the action.
Representatives must possess full authority to engage in settlement discussions and to agree upon a full and final settlement.
If a governmental entity is a party, then agency counsel or another person with settlement authority must attend along with counsel for the government, unless counsel for the government has settlement authority and has requested leave of the Court to attend without a client representative.
The following instructions are in addition to the requirements of Local Rule 16.2(b)(9) governing the list of exhibits to be provided with the Proposed Joint Final Pretrial Order.
1. Objections Based on Authenticity and Foundation: Failure to identify objections based on authenticity and foundation will result in waiver of those objections at trial.
2. Custody and Record of Admitted Exhibits: Counsel are required to maintain a record of all admitted exhibits during trial. Counsel for each party much keep custody of that party’s admitted exhibits during trial. Exceptions will be made for exhibits that may pose a threat or danger if transported to and from the Court, or exhibits that are delicate and otherwise unable to be moved without risk. In those instances, with advance warning, the Court will make arrangement to ensure the integrity of the evidence.
3. Preparing Exhibits for Jury Deliberation: Originals of all exhibits admitted at trial should be ready to be turned over to the jury at the beginning of jury deliberations.
4. Filing Exhibits: It is the responsibility of the parties to ensure that the record is complete.
5. Numbering Exhibits: The parties will consecutively number exhibits to be used at trial. Plaintiff’s exhibits will be designated beginning with “P-1.” Defendant’s exhibits will be designated beginning with “D-1.”
6. Filing Exhibits: It is the responsibility of the parties to ensure that the record is complete.
E. JURY INSTRUCTIONS
The parties must meet and confer prior to trial to discuss jury instructions. The parties must submit directly to the Court a single set of all stipulated proposed jury instructions and a verdict form no later than the date established in the Scheduling Order. The parties must also submit any instructions they cannot agree on by the same date. All such instructions are to be submitted in either Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, and each instruction shall contain references to authority. The Court has its own standard introductory and concluding instructions.
F. JURY SELECTION
Voir dire will be conducted by the Court with follow-up questions permitted by counsel. Counsel should submit proposed voir dire questions in writing at least five days in advance of the trial. Jurors will be excused without disclosing which side excused them.
G. NOTE TAKING & JUROR QUESTIONS
Jurors may be permitted to take notes during trial. The Court instructs the jury in advance on this issue.
H. PROPER USE OF JURY TIME
Although counsel is expected to raise foreseeable evidentiary issues by motions in limine before trial, if evidentiary problems arise during trial, counsel should raise them before or after the trial day, or during a break, to avoid jury down time while such problems are solved. Speaking objections are prohibited.