Harry S. Mattice, Jr., United States District Judge
Judicial PreferencesWritten correspondence from counsel to the court.
Judge Mattice strongly discourages written correspondence from counsel. If a party does communicate with the Court in writing, including by e-mail, copies must be sent to all parties.
Communication between counsel and the Judge's law clerks.
Judge Mattice strongly discourages ex parte communication between counsel and his law clerks. Any communication that does occur shall not address the merits of the case or any pending motion.
Preference for the use of telephone conferences rather than in-person conferences for any category of conferences that you schedule in connection with a case.
Scheduling conferences in civil cases (with the exception of ERISA cases) and final pretrial conferences in civil and criminal cases are conducted in person. Counsel, upon a request showing good cause, may be permitted to appear by telephone in exceptional cases.
With respect to ERISA cases, Judge Mattice will issue a proposed scheduling order without conducting a scheduling conference with the parties, and the proposed order will govern the case unless one of the parties objects. A party should object to the proposed order if the case is not an ERISA case or if the parties disagree as to whether it is an ERISA case. If a party does object, Judge Mattice will hold an in-person scheduling conference.
Preference regarding pro hac vice admissions.
Judge Mattice follows the procedure set forth in Local Rule 83.5.
Preference regarding oral arguments on motions.
Judge Mattice typically does not hold oral argument on motions. If Judge Mattice believes oral argument would be useful, he will schedule an argument. If a party believes oral argument would be of particular benefit on a motion, such party may file a separate motion of no more than five pages in length requesting oral argument and explaining why oral argument is necessary. Granting such motion requesting oral argument is entirely at the Court's discretion.
Preference for courtesy copies of motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers.
Judge Mattice will order the parties to provide courtesy copies of those writings if he believes they would be useful.
Standard form for scheduling order(s).
Judge Mattice uses a standard scheduling order in civil cases parties should familiarize themselves with it before attending the scheduling conference. Judge Mattice uses a separate standard scheduling order in ERISA cases. Copies of both standard scheduling orders are available on the Court's website.
Preferences regarding Federal Rule 16.
The parties shall make every effort to have their discovery planning conference in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f) before attending the Rule 16 scheduling conference. In conducting the 26(f) conference, the parties shall consider Judge Mattice's standard scheduling order and the default deadlines outlined below.
Preferences regarding Federal Rule 26.
Judge Mattice prefers that the discovery planning conference mandated by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f) be conducted
The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
Judge Mattice generally defers to reasonable attorney input at the scheduling conference as to the length of the discovery period and the trial date. Once a scheduling order has been entered, any changes to the deadlines set therein may be made only by the Court upon motion of a party. Requests for reasonable extensions that do not affect the trial date or the Court's ability to consider a dispositive motion are more likely to be granted than other requests. Once a trial date is set, counsel are expected to be prepared for the trial, absent exceptional circumstances.
The average amount of time allowed for discovery in a standard case.
Varies with each case.
Preferred approach and procedures for handling discovery conferences and disputes.
Counsel for all parties are required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the district's Local Rules to attempt to work out discovery disputes prior to bringing them to the attention of the Court. If the parties are unsuccessful, the dispute should be brought to the attention of the assigned Magistrate Judge.
Preferences regarding the handling of confidentiality agreements.
Preferences regarding requests for additional pages in excess of the page limitations set forth in Local Rule 7.1(b).
The page limitations established by Local Rule 7.1(b) ordinarily should be followed. Reasonable requests to exceed the page limitations in complex cases, however, are usually granted, pursuant to a motion made by the requesting party.
Preferences and procedure regarding 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.
A certain trial date (typically on a Tuesday) is set at the scheduling conference. Once set, continuance of the trial date will be granted rarely and only for exceptional reasons.
How needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses are accommodated.
Counsel should inform the Court at the scheduling conference of any peculiar needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses. To the extent possible, such needs will accommodated by setting dates that take into account out-of-town participants. Judge Mattice will consider other reasonable requests for accommodation, but out-of-town participants should exhaust all other options before submitting such a request.
Preferences regarding the delivery of written reports to the court by expert witnesses who are scheduled to testify.
Expert reports generally should not be delivered to the Court.
Preferences regarding the submission of trial briefs by counsel.
Pre-trial briefs on evidentiary and legal issues are encouraged but are not required unless specifically ordered by the Court. Judge Mattice typically will request post-trial briefs upon the conclusion of a bench trial.
Counsel participation in voir dire.
Judge Mattice allows counsel to participate in voir dire to the extent their use of time 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.
Time limits for opening and closing statements at trial.
Judge Mattice will set appropriate time limits for opening and closing statements on a case-by-case basis with input from counsel.
Preference for counsel to examine witnesses from counsel table or elsewhere, including whether you prefer counsel to remain seated while examining witnesses.
Counsel must stand and are to 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.
Whether more than one attorney may handle trial for a party.
Judge Mattice permits more than one attorney to handle a trial for a party; however, only one attorney for a party may conduct the examination of and raise objections during the testimony of any given witness.
Preference for handling sidebar conferences.
Judge Mattice discourages sidebar conferences. Counsel should raise such matters in conjunction with other breaks during trial, when the jury is out of the courtroom.
Preference or requirements for introducing videotaped testimony.
No preference. Judge Mattice expects counsel to discuss this issue in advance of trial and reach an agreement on the method.
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.
The date for the exchange of exhibits is set at the scheduling conference. Exhibits should be pre-marked according to the exhibit list the parties prepare.
Preference for the moving of exhibits into evidence at trial.
Counsel should stipulate to the introduction 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.
Allowance of examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross.
Judge Mattice typically does not permit examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross, absent compelling circumstances.
Special requirements for reading of depositions or other material onto the record at trial.
No special requirements.
Preference for written motion and/or brief for judgment as a matter of law or judgment on the pleadings when such motion is made during trial.
Not required, but encouraged, particularly on more complex issues of fact or law.
Approach to in limine motions.
Judge Mattice prefers to rule on motions in limine prior to trial, but it is sometimes necessary to withhold ruling until the issue arises in context at trial.
Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions, including the form of jury instruction.
The procedures and deadline for filing proposed jury instructions are governed by the scheduling order entered in each case.
Note-Taking by jurors.
Judge Mattice permits jurors to take notes.
Whether the jury may take exhibits into the jury room for deliberation and, if so, any limits.
All exhibits properly introduced into evidence, with the exception of firearms, ammunition, and controlled substances, shall be taken into the jury room during jury deliberations unless the Court specifically directs otherwise.
Preference regarding the submission of written verdict forms (in the form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
Counsel may submit proposed verdict forms for consideration by the Court, but the Court will prepare the form that is actually submitted to the jurors.
Written jury instructions provided to the jury.
Judge Mattice will submit written copies of the charge to the jury.
Requirements as to counsel's whereabouts during jury deliberations.
Counsel are requested to stay in the courthouse. If, however, counsel must leave the courthouse during deliberations, counsel should notify the courtroom deputy of his or her whereabouts and be able to return to the courthouse within ten (10) minutes of being notified to do so.
Whether counsel may speak with the jurors after a verdict has been rendered and recorded and, if a jury is polled, who conducts the polling.
Local Rule 48.1 prevents counsel from post-verdict communication with jurors without Court permission. Judge Mattice will grant such a request only in extraordinary circumstances. When requested, polling of jurors is conducted by the courtroom deputy.
Jury requests for review of testimony or recorded evidence.
Such requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Handling requests for temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and other emergency relief.
The parties must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. If an expedited hearing is sought, the parties should file a motion with the Court.
As to injunctions, whether expedited discovery and briefing is allowed and, if so, whether briefing is allowed before or after any preliminary injunction hearing, and whether proposed findings of fact or conclusions of law in such cases are required.
Briefing is allowed as in other cases. Expedited discovery may be ordered upon appropriate motion to the Court. Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law are encouraged, but not required.
Prefer to receive copies of appellate filings when an appeal has been taken from an order.
General approach to settlement in non-jury cases and use of magistrate judges.
In all cases, the parties are urged to try to settle, using mediation or other alternative dispute resolution if necessary. Magistrate judges may be involved on a case-by-case basis.
Extent to which practices and procedures in criminal cases are varied from those in civil cases.
Trial practices are the same in both civil and criminal cases. Scheduling orders in criminal cases differ from those in civil cases and are entered by the Magistrate Judges. In criminal cases, the Court adheres to plea and motions deadlines unless modified upon motion addressed to the Court. Pleas coming after the plea deadline will normally be taken by the Court only if the defendant pleads guilty to the indictment returned by the grand jury, without a plea agreement.
Procedures as to magistrate's reports.
Judge Mattice follows 28 U.S.C. 636.
This matter is controlled by Local Rule 83.2, which the Court and counsel are required to follow.