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Debra C. Poplin, United States Magistrate Judge

Chambers Address: 
800 Market Street, Suite 144
Knoxville TN 37902
(865) 545-4260

Staff Information

Judicial Assistant: 
Holly Nease
Courtroom Deputy: 
Rachel Stone, (865) 329-4671
Law Clerks: 
Michelle Gensheimer
Ashley Arnold
Lauryn Hardy




Knoxville Courtroom 3B


Judicial Preferences

1.  Written correspondence from counsel to the court.
Should be avoided, except for routine (scheduling, advising of settlement status, etc.) matters, should not address the merits of any motion or case except discovery disputes, and in any event all other attorneys should be furnished a copy.
2.  Communication between counsel and the Judge's law clerks.
Permitted, as per above.
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.
I allow telephonic motion hearings, especially if there are attorneys involved whose offices are a significant distance from the court UNLESS the number of lawyers, or the subject matter of the hearing, would make a telephonic hearing unworkable. Attorneys are welcome to request telephonic hearings by contacting the law clerk. I generally conduct discovery disputes by telephone conference.

Conference Calls: Generally, the parties are to initiate the call into chambers. Where there are two phone calls, my Judicial Assistant will join the calls. When there are more than two calls, however, I prefer that the parties either join into a conference call amongst themselves and then call into chambers, or provide my Judicial Assistant or Law Clerk with a conference call-in number and code.

I prefer that attorneys participate in conference calls via land line, when possible. Attorneys should also participate via handset rather than speakerphone, when possible. Both of these preferences prevent counsel's voices from being lost in the connection of the various phone calls.

4.  Preference regarding pro hac vice admissions.
No preference beyond what the Local Rule requires.
5.  Preference regarding oral arguments on motions.
The nature of the motion determines the need for oral argument. I do not routinely set all motions for oral argument. The lawyers are free to request oral argument which usually, but not always, is granted. Generally, I prefer oral argument on dispositive motions and only on select non-dispositive motions.
6.  Preference for courtesy copies of motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers.
I require copies of all motions, briefs, greater than 25 pages or filed within 48 hours of the hearing/trial.
7.  Standard form for scheduling order(s).
A copy of Judge Poplin's form scheduling order is on the court's web site.
8.  Preferences regarding Federal Rule 16.
None, except that it be read and followed.
9.  Preferences regarding Federal Rule 26.
None, except that it be read and followed, particularly the timing and content of initial disclosure and expert disclosures. Reasonable extensions of deadlines usually are granted, if timely requested.
10.  The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
The input of the attorneys is given great weight when initially setting discovery deadlines and trial dates. The time allowed for discovery in a standard case depends upon the complexity of the case. The trial date will be set so as to allow adequate time for discovery in light of the nature of the case. Thereafter counsel is expected to comply with the deadlines.
11.  The average amount of time allowed for discovery in a standard case.
This depends upon the complexity of the case. The trial date will be set so as to allow adequate time for discovery in light of the nature of the case.
12.  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. Discovery disputes are generally handled by conference call with all attorneys present on the call.
13.  Preferences regarding the handling of confidentiality agreements.
The parties may agree to essentially any agreement they wish as between or among themselves. However, with regard to filing documents "under seal" with the court, they should be aware of Local Rule 26.2 and Proctor & Gamble Co. v. Bankers Trust Co., 78 F.3d 219 (6th Cir. 1996); the parties must obtain court permission to file any documents with the court under seal.
14.  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 are usually granted.
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.
All deadlines and the trial date are set at the scheduling conference (only upon a showing of good cause will those deadlines or the trial date be moved.
16.  How needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses are accommodated.
If made aware of specific problems, the court will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate out-of-town attorneys and parties with regard to scheduling dates and times.
17.  Preferences regarding the delivery of written reports to the court by expert witnesses who are scheduled to testify.
Should not be delivered to the court absent advance permission and notice to all counsel.
18.  Preferences regarding the submission of trial briefs by counsel.
Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law are required in non-jury trials. In jury trials, briefs are strongly encouraged, but I have no blanket requirement; I may request such on a case-by-case basis.
19.  Counsel participation in voir dire.
Voir dire by counsel is allowed.
20.  Time limits for opening and closing statements at trial.
I ask the attorneys how much time they require; I then hold them to those limits.
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 when addressing the court, making objections or examining witnesses. I prefer questioning from the podium but I do not object if they do so from counsel table.
22.  Whether more than one attorney may handle trial for a party.
I have no objection, although only one attorney may examine any given witness, or make objections to a given witness.
23.  Preference for handling sidebar conferences.
Sidebar conferences are discouraged but allowed. If a lengthy conference is needed, the jury will be excused.
24.  Preference or requirements for introducing videotaped testimony.
The courtroom deputy clerk must be given advance notice (as required by the final pre-trial order) so that she may have the equipment prepared.
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.
The scheduling order sets a date certain for exchanging exhibit lists and reviewing exhibits. Any exhibit which may introduced at trial must be pre-marked at the final pre-trial conference.
26.  Preference for the moving of exhibits into evidence at trial.
Via exhibit notebook (more fully explained at pretrial conference). Individually, not as a whole. With technology, caution should be had as to introducing the exhibit before publishing it.
27.  Allowance of examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross.
Usually not allowed, but exceptions will be made if good cause shown, and strictly limited to content of previous examination.
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.
Preferred, but not required.
30.  Approach to in limine motions.
I recommend they be filed as soon as reasonably possible. Deadlines set by the scheduling order.
31.  Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions, including the form of jury instruction.
See the scheduling order. A charge conference will generally be held before or during the trial.
32.  Note-Taking by jurors.
Allowed, but not encouraged.
33.  Whether the jury may take exhibits into the jury room for deliberation and, if so, any limits.
All exhibits are taken into the jury room unless the court specifically directs otherwise.
34.  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.
35.  Written jury instructions provided to the jury.
36.  Requirements as to counsel's whereabouts during jury deliberations.
Only that they advise where they can be reached on short notice.
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.
Polling after verdict by Court. Absent extraordinary circumstances, attorneys are not allowed to interview the jurors after verdict. See Local Rules.
38.  Jury requests for review of testimony or recorded evidence.
Such requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.
39.  Handling requests for temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and other emergency relief.
No preference.
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.
No preference. Each case will be considered on its own merits.
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.
Mediation is allowed, and encouraged. Reasonable extensions of deadlines and trial dates to allow the pursuit of mediation may be granted.
43.  Extent to which practices and procedures in criminal cases are varied from those in civil cases.
Procedures vary only to the extent that the respective Federal Rules of Procedure and/or Local Rules so require.
44.  Media communications.
Local Rules control.