Chattanooga Courtroom 1B
Magistrate Judge Steger does not permit the filing of Statements of Undisputed Material Facts and will summarily disregard them.
Pre-trial briefs on evidentiary and legal issues are not required unless specifically ordered by the Court. Parties shall make every effort to resolve and reduce to writing any stipulations before trial, particularly regarding the admissibility of exhibits. Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law are required in non-jury trial, and Judge Steger typically will require post-trial briefs upon the conclusion of a bench trial.
Where possible, motions in limine should be presented to the Court in advance of the trial. Judge Steger prefers to rule on motions in limine before trial; however, it may be necessary to reserve ruling until the issue arises at trial in order to gain context.
Judge Steger allows counsel to participate in voir dire to the extent it advances the goal of selecting a fair and impartial jury. The Court will conclude voir dire by counsel when their questions stray from that purpose. Once voir dire is completed, counsel will submit their challenges to the Court on a form provided by the courtroom deputy. The jury will consist of panel members who remain after counsel submit their challenges. "Back-striking" is not permitted during jury selection.
Judge Steger will set appropriate time limits for opening and closing statements on a case-by-case basis with input from counsel.
Counsel must stand and examine witnesses from the lectern. Counsel must never approach a witness in a jury trial without permission of the Court and are never allowed, under any circumstances, to stand near or lean against the jury box or to have any close contact with jurors in the jury box. Judge Steger does not permit jurors to pose questions to witnesses.
Judge Steger permits more than one attorney to handle a trial for a party, but only one attorney for a party may conduct the examination of and raise objections during the testimony of any given witness.
Sidebar conferences are discouraged and should be kept to a minimum. To the extent possible, counsel should raise such matters in conjunction with other breaks during trial or after the conclusion of the day's work, when the jury is out of the courtroom.
No preference. Judge Steger expects counsel to discuss this issue in advance of trial and reach an agreement on the method.
Exhibits should be pre-marked according to the exhibit list the parties prepare.
Counsel should stipulate to the admissibility of as many exhibits as possible. For exhibits that are stipulated, counsel need not move for the introduction of each individual exhibit. For exhibits that are not stipulated, counsel should move for their admission if and when the documents are presented at trial.
Judge Steger typically does not permit examination of witnesses beyond re-direct and re-cross, absent compelling circumstances.
Briefing on motions for judgment as a matter of law are not required, but encouraged, particularly on more complex issues of fact or law.
The procedures and deadline for filing proposed jury instructions are governed by the scheduling order. When crafting its jury instructions, the Court refers to the Sixth Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions, Sixth Circuit case law, and, to the extent consistent with applicable precedent, pattern jury instructions for other circuits. When submitting proposed instructions, the parties shall ensure that their proposed instructions follow the form of the pattern instructions. Local Rule 51.1 requires counsel to share their proposed instructions with each other, and Judge Steger requires the parties to confer and to certify that they have attempted to resolve any differences before submitting their proposed instructions to the Court. n. Preference regarding the submission of written verdict forms (in the form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
Special verdict forms may be utilized when necessitated by the nature of the particular case.
Judge Steger typically permits jurors to take notes.
Exhibits properly introduced into evidence may be taken into the jury room during jury deliberations unless the Court specifically directs otherwise.
Judge Steger will provide one written copy of the final instructions to the jury.
Counsel are requested to stay in reasonably close proximity to the courthouse during jury deliberations, and should notify the courtroom deputy as to how they can be reached so that they can return promptly to courthouse when notified to do so.
Local Rule 48.1 prevents counsel from post-verdict communication with jurors without Court permission. Judge Steger will grant such a request only in extraordinary circumstances. When requested, polling of jurors is conducted by the courtroom deputy.
Such requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, but will be granted only sparingly.