The Court expects all lawyers who appear before it to be familiar with, and to abide by, all local rules, standing orders, these preferences, and local standards of practice and civility. The Court encourages lawyers who are not permanently admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to have the benefit of local counsel to ensure efficiency and compliance with these standards.
1. Written correspondence from counsel to the Court.
This should be avoided except for routine matters that do not address the merits of any motion or pending case, such as scheduling, advising the Court of a settlement, etc. An email may be sent to Atchley_Chambers@tned.uscourts.gov, copying opposing counsel.
2. Communication between counsel and the Judge's law clerks.
Communication with Judge Atchley’s law clerks is permitted but not as to the merits of a case or any pending motion. Requests for action by the Court and the submission of information to the Court must be made by motion or other appropriate filing. Calls to chambers should include a representative from each side of the litigation whenever possible.
3. 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.
Initial scheduling conferences and case management conferences may be by conference call. Pretrial conferences are in person in Chattanooga unless otherwise scheduled by the Court.
4. Preference regarding pro hac vice admissions.
No preference beyond what is required by the Local Rules.
5. Preference regarding oral argument on motions.
Non-dispositive motions are set for oral argument at the Court’s discretion. The Court will notify counsel as to the date and time of the hearing. If the parties intend to present evidence at the hearing, they must notify the Court in advance so that arrangements can be made to have an official court reporter present.
Any request for oral argument should be made by motion, explaining why oral argument would be useful to the Court.
6. Preferences regarding Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16.
The Court generally holds a telephonic scheduling conference at the beginning of each civil case. At the conference, the Court expects counsel to be prepared to engage in a substantive discussion of the case, including the parties’ legal theories, facts in dispute, anticipated evidence, and all issues contemplated by Rule 16(a)(1) - (5) and (c)(2)(A) - (P).
7. Preferences regarding Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26.
The Court will consider reasonable requests for extensions of deadlines that are supported by good cause. Absent such requests, deadlines are enforced. All written discovery requests should be served sufficiently in advance of the discovery deadline so that responses will be due prior to the deadline. Parties may agree to conduct discovery after the discovery deadline has expired; however, the Court will not involve itself in discovery disputes that arise following the expiration of such deadline absent exceptional circumstances.
8. The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
At the initial scheduling conference, the input of the attorneys is given great weight in setting discovery deadlines and trial dates. The time allowed for discovery in a standard case depends primarily upon its complexity. The trial date will be set to allow adequate time for discovery in light of the nature of the case.
Once a scheduling order has been entered, it will be modified only upon a showing of good cause. The dispositive motion deadline will not be extended absent extraordinary circumstances.
9. The average amount of time allowed for discovery in a standard case.
This depends on the complexity of the case with the deadlines established with input from the attorneys.
10. Scheduling Orders
The Court uses a standard scheduling order and encourages participants in the scheduling conference to become familiar with the form prior to the conference. Trials are set on Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. ET. Typically, the scheduling order will provide the following deadlines relative to the trial date:
|Joinder / Amendment Deadline||29 weeks before trial|
|Plaintiff’s Expert Disclosures||29 weeks before trial|
|Defendant’s Expert Disclosures||25 weeks before trial|
|Final Witness List||23 weeks before trial|
|Close of Discovery||19 weeks before trial|
|Dispositive Motions||15 weeks before trial|
|Daubert Motions||15 weeks before trial|
|Pretrial Disclosures||7 weeks before trial|
|Motions in Limine||6 weeks before trial|
|Proposed Jury Instructions or Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law||3 weeks before trial|
|Final Pretrial Conference||15 days before trial|
11. Preferred approach and procedures for handling discovery conferences and disputes.
Lawyers should (1) meet and confer and use their best efforts to resolve discovery disputes promptly among themselves, but (2) bring such disputes promptly to the attention of the Court so that they may be resolved quickly.
12. Preferences regarding the handling of confidentiality agreements.
The parties may agree to any reasonable confidentiality terms between or among themselves; however, the parties' designation of materials as confidential does not automatically merit the filing of those materials "under seal." To file a document under seal, the parties must move for leave to do so pursuant to the applicable rules. The parties should be mindful of the high value placed on public access to judicial records, and should be guided by the provisions of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c), Local Rule 26.2, and Proctor & Gamble Co. v. Bankers Trust Co., 78 F.3d 219 (6th Cir. 1996). Such motions will be closely scrutinized.
13. Preferences regarding requests for additional pages in excess of the page limitations set forth in Local Rule 7.1(b).
Reasonable requests to exceed the page limitation will be considered, but generally such requests are denied unless good cause exists. Failure to comply with page limitations may result in the Court disregarding the noncompliant portion of the brief or summarily denying the underlying motion.
14. 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.
The Court sets trial dates and pretrial deadlines after receiving input from the parties at the scheduling conference. Once set, the Court expects the parties to comply with the deadlines in the scheduling order. Similarly, Judge Atchley will endeavor to hear civil trials on the day they are originally set for trial unless a criminal trial takes priority.
15. How needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses are accommodated.
If made aware of any specific problems, the Court will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate out-of-town attorneys and parties regarding scheduling dates and times.
16. Preferences regarding the delivery of written reports to the Court by expert witnesses who are scheduled to testify.
These should not be delivered absent advance permission and notice to all counsel.
17. Preferences regarding the submission of trial briefs by counsel.
Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law are required in non-jury trials as set forth in the scheduling order. In jury trials, briefs are encouraged, but not required. Briefs may be requested by the Court on a case-by-case basis.
18. Counsel participation in voir dire.
Voir dire by counsel is allowed but may be limited at the discretion of the Court.
19. Preferences regarding opening and closing statements at trial.
Time limits for opening and closing statements will be determined on a case by case basis. Display of printed or electronic visual materials during opening statements and/or closing arguments will be permitted only if such exhibits either (i) have been admitted into evidence as substantive or demonstrative exhibits, or (ii) are the subject of a stipulation by the parties. Exceptions to this requirement should be sought by motion, filed sufficiently in advance of the proposed use of the exhibit that all parties have a reasonable opportunity to respond.
20. 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 when addressing the Court or making objections. At trial, counsel must address witnesses from the podium.
21. Whether more than one attorney may handle trial for a party.
More than one attorney may represent a party at trial. Only one attorney may address a witness.
22. Preference for handling sidebar conferences.
Sidebar conferences are allowed if deemed necessary by the Court. If a lengthy conference is needed, the jury will be excused.
23. Preference or requirements for introducing videotaped testimony.
To avoid a delay in the progression of trial, a party who wishes to introduce videotaped testimony must notify the courtroom deputy on or before the final pretrial conference.
24. 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 pre-marking of exhibits is required as set forth in the scheduling order.
25. Preference for the moving of exhibits into evidence at trial.
No formal motion to admit exhibits is required. Exhibits should be admitted individually and not collectively. All objections to exhibits are dealt with at or before the final pretrial conference to the extent possible.
26. Allowance of examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross.
Usually not allowed, except under exceptional circumstances.
27. Special requirements for reading of depositions or other material into the record at trial.
No special requirements.
28. Preference for written motion for judgment as a matter of law or judgment on the pleadings when such motion is made during trial.
No written motion or brief is required.
29. Approach to in limine motions.
Motions in limine should be filed as soon as possible, but no later than the date set forth in the scheduling order. The Court will generally hear argument on pending motions in limine at the final pretrial conference, but may defer ruling until trial.
30. Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions, including the form of jury instructions.
The procedure for proposed jury instructions is set forth in the scheduling order and Local Rule 51.1.
31. Notetaking by jurors.
32. Whether the jury may take exhibits into the jury room for deliberation and, if so, any limits.
All exhibits are available in the jury room unless the Court specifically directs otherwise.
33. Preference regarding the submission of written verdict forms (in the form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
Special verdict forms are utilized when necessitated by the nature of the particular case.
34. Written jury instructions provided to the jury.
35. Requirements as to counsel's whereabouts during jury deliberations.
Counsel who leave the vicinity of the courtroom during jury deliberation should notify the courtroom deputy clerk of his or her whereabouts and be able to return to court within ten (10) minutes of being notified to do so.
36. 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.
Judge Atchley adheres to Local Rule 48.1 regarding the interrogation of jurors after a trial has concluded. If the jury is polled, Judge Atchley will conduct the polling.
37. Jury requests for review of testimony or recorded evidence.
This will be decided on a case by case basis.
38. Handling requests for temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and other emergency relief.
No set preferences. Counsel should email Atchley_Chambers@tned.uscourts.gov if an expedited hearing is requested, copying a representative from each side of the litigation if possible.
39. 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.
40. Prefer to receive copies of appellate filings when an appeal has been taken from an order.
41. Media communications.
See Local Rule 83.2 regarding public statements by attorneys.