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Curtis L. Collier, Senior United States District Judge

Chambers Address: 
900 Georgia Avenue, Room 253
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 752-5287

Staff Information

Judicial Assistant: 
Carrie Stefaniak (Law Clerk), (423) 752-5287
Courtroom Deputy: 
Barbara Lewis, (423) 386-3513
Law Clerks: 
Carrie Stefaniak
Erienne Lewis
Rachel Noveroske




Chattanooga Courtroom 3


Judicial Preferences

1.  Written correspondence from counsel to the court.
Judge Collier discourages written correspondence from counsel. However, if correspondence is written, copies should be sent to counsel for all parties.
2.  Communication between counsel and the Judge's law clerks.
Requests for action by the Court and the submission of information to the Court should be made by motion or other appropriate filing. Judge Collier's law clerks will occasionally communicate with counsel on purely administrative matters, however. Telephone calls to chambers should include a representative of each side in 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.
Judge Collier expects counsel who will be actively involved in the case and who have authority to bind their party to attend the scheduling conference and the final pretrial conference in person. Judge Collier may initiate a telephone conference in other situations when necessary.
4.  Preference regarding pro hac vice admissions.
No preference.
5.  Preference regarding oral arguments on motions.
Judge Collier typically does not hold oral argument on motions. If Judge Collier believes oral argument will be useful, he will set it. If a party believes oral argument would be of particular benefit on a motion, the party may file a separate motion that explains why oral argument should be scheduled.
6.  Preference for courtesy copies of motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers.
Courtesy copies are not necessary unless specifically requested. Please see item 31 below regarding proposed jury instructions.
7.  Standard form for scheduling order(s).
Judge Collier uses a standard scheduling order and encourages parties to be familiar with the form when they attend the scheduling conference.
8.  Preferences regarding Federal Rule 16.
No preference.
9.  Preferences regarding Federal Rule 26.
No preference.
10.  The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
Judge Collier generally defers to reasonable attorney input at the scheduling conference as to the length of the discovery period and as to the month for a trial date. 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 that other extensions.
11.  The average amount of time allowed for discovery in a standard case.
Varies with each case.
12.  Preferred approach and procedures for handling discovery conferences and disputes.
Counsel for all parties are required by local rule to attempt to work out discovery disputes prior to bringing them to the attention of the Court. If they are unsuccessful, the dispute should be brought to the attention of the assigned magistrate judge.
13.  Preferences regarding the handling of confidentiality agreements.
No preference.
14.  Preferences regarding requests for additional pages in excess of the page limitations set forth in Local Rule 7.1(b).
Judge Collier believes that the page limitations set out in Local Rule 7.1(b) are sufficient in all but the most exceptional cases. Any request for additional pages should be made by motion at least two business days before the overly long document is due to be filed and should state all parties' positions on the request if possible.
15.  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 date certain for trial, typically a Monday, is set at the scheduling conference. Rarely will this trial date be moved.
16.  How needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses are accommodated.
These needs are accommodated at the scheduling conference by setting dates that take into account out-of-town participants. Judge Collier will consider other reasonable requests for accommodation, but out-of-town participants should exhaust all options before submitting such a request.
17.  Preferences regarding the delivery of written reports to the court by expert witnesses who are scheduled to testify.
These are not to be delivered to the Court.
18.  Preferences regarding the submission of trial briefs by counsel.
Trial briefs on evidentiary and legal issues are encouraged but not required.
19.  Counsel participation in voir dire.
Judge Collier will conduct all voir dire, but welcomes submission of proposed voir dire questions by the parties prior to trial.
20.  Time limits for opening and closing statements at trial.
Judge Collier does not set a time limit for opening statements, but expects attorneys to be reasonable with respect to the consumption of time. The Court will consider counsel's input regarding a reasonable time limit for closing statements.
21.  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.
22.  Whether more than one attorney may handle trial for a party.
Judge Collier permits more than one attorney to handle a trial for a party; however, only one attorney for a party may conduct examination and raise objections during the testimony of any given witness. Judge Collier encourages more senior counsel to identify portions of a trial that may be handled by more junior counsel.
23.  Preference for handling sidebar conferences.
Judge Collier discourages sidebar conferences. Counsel should raise such matters in conjunction with breaks during trial, when the jury is out of the courtroom. Counsel should confer with each other, anticipate these needs, and notify the courtroom deputy or the law clerk as the need to address an issue approaches.
24.  Preference or requirements for introducing videotaped testimony.
No preference. Judge Collier expects counsel will discuss this in advance of trial and reach agreement on the method.
25.  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.
Date for exchange is determined at the scheduling conference. Exhibits should be pre-marked according to the exhibit list the parties prepare. Provide three copies of the exhibit list to the courtroom deputy before the trial begins.
26.  Preference for the moving of exhibits into evidence at trial.
No preference, but the Federal Rules of Evidence should be followed.
27.  Allowance of examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross.
Examination beyond redirect is discouraged, but on occasion Judge Collier will allow recross.
28.  Special requirements for reading of depositions or other material onto the record at trial.
No special requirements.
29.  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.
30.  Approach to in limine motions.
Judge Collier prefers to rule on motions in limine prior to trial, but sometimes the context provided by the trial is necessary to determine the issues.
31.  Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions, including the form of jury instruction.
The scheduling order provides a date to file requests for jury instructions. The parties should confer and submit joint proposed jury instructions to the extent possible. A courtesy copy of requests for jury instructions should be sent as an attachment in word-processing format (e.g. Microsoft Word or other compatible format) to by the date set out in the scheduling order.
32.  Note-Taking by jurors.
33.  Whether the jury may take exhibits into the jury room for deliberation and, if so, any limits.
Jurors may take exhibits into the jury room for deliberation, except for firearms and controlled substances. All exhibits which can be put in electronic form must be in electronic form. The jurors will not receive physical copies of any exhibits which can exist in electronic form, but instead will view them on an electronic evidence display system in the jury room.
34.  Preference regarding the submission of written verdict forms (in the form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
The Court submits written verdict forms to jurors.
35.  Written jury instructions provided to the jury.
Yes. A copy of the final instruction is provided to the jury when it begins deliberation.
36.  Requirements as to counsel's whereabouts during jury deliberations.
Attorneys are requested to stay in the courthouse during jury deliberations.
37.  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 prevents counsel from post-verdict communication with jurors without Court permission. When requested, polling is conducted by the courtroom deputy.
38.  Jury requests for review of testimony or recorded evidence.
Such requests are treated on a case-by-case basis, but are generally discouraged.
39.  Handling requests for temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and other emergency relief.
Parties must comply with Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Judge Collier will ask the requesting party to notify the opposing party as the Court sets an emergency hearing. Parties requesting an emergency hearing should be prepared to appear when the Court sets a hearing, often the same day the petition is filed.
40.  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.
Expedited discovery and briefing is allowed before a preliminary injunction hearing. Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law are welcomed.
41.  Prefer to receive copies of appellate filings when an appeal has been taken from an order.
42.  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.
43.  Extent to which practices and procedures in criminal cases are varied from those in civil cases.
Trial practices are the same. Scheduling orders in criminal cases differ, of course, from those in civil cases, and are entered by United States Magistrate Judges. In criminal cases, the Court adheres to plea and motions deadlines unless modified upon motion addressed to the Court. The Court generally will not accept a plea agreement executed after the plea deadline, but of course a defendant is free to plead guilty.
During criminal sentencing hearings, the Court does not allow testimony by character witnesses; the Court only allows witness testimony on factual disputes that have the potential to affect a defendant’s Guideline range.  The Court does accept and review letters of support submitted before a sentencing hearing, and the Court accepts representations of counsel during a sentencing hearing as to the substance of what a character witness would say if that witness were to testify.
44.  Procedures as to magistrate's reports.
The Court follows 28 U.S.C. 636.
45.  Media communications.
Local Rule 83.2 controls. Judge Collier discourages any communication regarding pending cases while such cases are in his court.
46.  Citations to Authority.
Citations to authority should be placed within the text of a document, not in footnotes or endnotes.