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Harry S. Mattice, Jr., Senior United States District Judge




Chattanooga Courtroom 3


Judicial Preferences

1.  Communication from counsel to the Court.
Counsel should not contact chambers by phone. While written correspondence (via U.S. mail or e-mail) is discouraged, any party submitting written communication to the Court must send copies to counsel for all parties.
The preferred method of communication with the Court is always a formal written motion, filed on the Court's electronic case filing system. Any information obtained by any means other than a court order - including, but not limited to, telephone or e-mail messages transmitted by employees of the Clerk's Office or chambers staff - is not a part of the record and in no way binds the Court.
Direct, ex parte communications with Judge Mattice are strictly forbidden. Joint communications by all parties may be allowed if the subject matter is disclosed in advance and Judge Mattice authorizes the communication.
2.  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.
3.  Scheduling.
Ordinarily, the Court does not conduct scheduling conferences in civil cases. However, the Court may convene a scheduling conference upon any party's motion or if the Court believes it would be useful. After all parties have appeared in a civil action, the Court will enter an order directing them to confer and develop a discovery plan in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f). The parties shall jointly file a written report outlining their discovery plan no later than 21 days from the date of the Court's order. However, the parties may file the Rule 26(f) report at any earlier time, including prior to the Court's order directing the parties to confer.
At an appropriate point after the parties submit their Rule 26(f) report, the Court will enter a scheduling order pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b), in which it specifies a trial date and all relevant pretrial deadlines. In their Rule 26(f) report, the parties may submit proposed trial dates and may suggest other pretrial deadlines. Such proposals are not required, and all dates will be set based on the demands of the Court's docket. Civil trials are generally scheduled to begin on Tuesdays. Once set, continuance of the trial date will be granted rarely and only for exceptional reasons. However, because criminal trials must take precedence over civil actions, Judge Mattice's criminal docket may require the Court to reset a civil trial on short notice. In such instances, the Court may hold the civil trial "in line" to begin immediately upon completion of the criminal matter, or it may reset the civil trial date altogether.
Judge Mattice typically uses a standard scheduling order in most civil cases. That default schedule provides for the following deadlines, calculated in relation to the trial date:
Plaintiff's Expert Disclosures/Joinder and Amendment Deadline Twenty-seven (27) weeks before trial
Defendant's Expert Disclosures Twenty-three (23) weeks before trial
Final Witness List Twenty-one (21) weeks before trial
Close of Discovery Nineteen (19) weeks before trial
Dispositive Motions Deadline  Fifteen (15) weeks before trial
Pretrial Disclosures Six (6) weeks before trial
Motions in limine Four (4) weeks before trial
Proposed Jury Instructions or Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law Three (3) weeks before trial
Final Pretrial Conference Monday two (2) weeks before trial
Judge Mattice will attempt to accommodate reasonable attorney input when possible, but the Court will not move the dispositive motion deadline any closer to the trial date than fifteen weeks before.
The demands of the Court's docket dictate that all civil cases be scheduled for trial in Chattanooga, Tennessee. However, the Court may entertain motions to conduct trial in another division of this Court upon a showing of good cause. Any such motions must be filed after the dispositive motions deadline but no later than four weeks before the final pretrial conference, and the grant or denial of the same rests in the Court's sole discretion.
4.  Effect of dispositive motions on discovery.
Absent an order to the contrary, the filing of a dispositive motion does not stay discovery. Additionally, the Court may enter a scheduling order while a motion to dismiss remains pending. Motions to stay discovery pending the resolution of a dispositive motion will be granted only in unusual circumstances and on a case-by-case basis.
5.  Scheduling and referral of ERISA cases.
With respect to ERISA cases, Judge Mattice will issue a proposed scheduling and referral 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.
6.  Requests to modify a scheduling order or extend pretrial deadlines.
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. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4), a scheduling order may be modified only for good cause and with Judge Mattice's consent. Judge Mattice will modify the scheduling order only if a deadline cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension.
Absent extraordinary circumstances, Judge Mattice will not amend the dispositive motion deadline.
7.  Motion Practice.
Number of motions and briefs per party
Generally, for all matters not implicating the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, each party will be permitted to file only one dispositive motion at each stage of litigation (i.e., one motion to dismiss and one motion for summary judgment per party). In addition to these limitations, the Court may order the parties to submit additional briefs or permit the parties to submit additional motions pertaining to certain threshold issues.
Additionally, each party is entitled to file only one supporting memorandum per motion and only one response to each opposing party's motion. Whenever practicable, the responding party is encouraged to file a consolidated response to all pending motions. In the event that there are multiple responding parties, those parties may forgo their individual responses in favor of filing a joint response which complies with Local Rule 7.1.
These rules apply per party, not per counsel; thus, a party with multiple sets of counsel will not be permitted to file additional motions or briefs.
Extensions of Time
Absent extraordinary circumstances, Judge Mattice will not extend the dispositive motion deadline.
Motions for extensions of time to file all other motions or responses must be made well in advance of the deadline the moving party seeks to extend. The moving party must demonstrate why the requested extension is necessary and will bear the burden of specifically defining the bases for and extent of its request. The fact and length of an extension is in the Court's sole discretion. Motions filed on or past the deadline the party seeks to extend are subject to summary denial.
8.  Page limitations.
When submitting briefs, the parties must follow the page limitations established by Local Rule 7.1(b). The page limitations established therein do not include: cover sheet, table of contents, table of authorities, or certificate of service.
A responding party may join or incorporate by reference any brief or argument advanced by another responding party. However, any briefs or arguments that are joined or incorporated by reference will be counted towards the overall limit for briefs set forth in Local Rule 7.1(b).
Failure to comply with page limitations may result in the Court disregarding the noncompliant brief or summarily denying the underlying motion.
In rare cases (e.g., cases of particular complexity, certain class action matters, etc.), Judge Mattice may grant a motion to exceed the page limitations by a reasonable number of pages. The moving party must demonstrate why the ordinary page limitations are insufficient and will bear the burden of specifically defining the bases for and extent of its request. Such requests must be made prior to the submission of the moving party's brief and in sufficient time to permit Judge Mattice to rule on the motion before the expiration of the briefing deadline.
Motions for extensions that do not comply with these guidelines may be summarily denied.
"Statements of undisputed material fact" and citations to particular parts of the record
Judge Mattice will summarily disregard "statements of undisputed material fact" unless: (1) they are jointly-filed; (2) they contain no argument; and (3) they state facts accepted by both parties as true, on which the Court may rely in addressing a dispositive motion. "Responses" to such jointly filed statements are unnecessary, and the filing of any response to a "statement of undisputed material fact" will result in the statement and response being summarily disregarded. Motions relying solely on improper "statements of undisputed material fact" are subject to summary denial.
In keeping with Fed. R. Civ. P. 56c, motions for summary judgment and responsive briefs shall include factual assertions that are supported by citations to evidence in the record (e.g., affidavits, depositions, exhibits, etc.). The parties must cite to "particular parts of materials in the record" (such as specific page numbers) to support all factual assertions. The Court will disregard all unsupported factual assertions.
Oral arguments on motions
Judge Mattice typically does not hold oral argument on motions. 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 desirable. Granting such motion requesting oral argument is entirely at the Court's discretion.
Citations to unpublished opinions and copies of unpublished authorities
Parties may cite to unpublished opinions in their briefs. However, in accordance with Local Rule 7.4, parties shall not file copies of unpublished opinions unless that authority is not available on either Westlaw or LexisNexis.
9.  Procedures for handling discovery disputes.
Counsel for all parties are required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the district's Local Rules to attempt to resolve discovery disputes before bringing them to the Court's attention. If the parties are unsuccessful, the dispute should be brought to the attention of the assigned Magistrate Judge, who will either handle the dispute or advise Judge Mattice as to how it should be handled.
10.  Confidentiality agreements.
No preference. However, the parties should be mindful of the high value placed on public access to judicial records and the provisions of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26c. Regardless of the terms of a confidentiality agreement, 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. Judge Mattice closely scrutinizes such motions.
11.  Trial.
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 as provided for in the Proposed Final Pretrial Order, particularly regarding the admissibility of exhibits. Judge Mattice typically will request post-trial briefs upon the conclusion of a bench trial.
Motions in limine
Judge Mattice prefers to rule on motions in limine before trial, if possible, but it is often necessary to reserve ruling until the issue arises in context at trial. Judge Mattice requires the parties to certify that they have raised any concerns with each other and attempted to resolve them, particularly by stipulation, before filing a motion in limine.
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.
Examining witnesses
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 Mattice does not permit jurors to pose questions to witnesses.
Multiple attorneys
Judge Mattice 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
As the courtroom cannot easily accommodate sidebar conferences, Judge Mattice discourages sidebar conferences and keeps them to a minimum. 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.
Introduction of recorded testimony
No preference. Judge Mattice expects counsel to discuss this issue in advance of trial and reach an agreement on the method.
Pre-marking exhibits
Exhibits should be pre-marked according to the exhibit list the parties prepare.
Moving exhibits into evidence
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.
Examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross
Judge Mattice typically does not permit examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross, absent compelling circumstances.
Judgment as a matter of law - briefing
Not required, but encouraged, particularly on more complex issues of fact or law.
Jury instructions
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 Criminal 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 Mattice requires the parties to confer and to certify that they have attempted to resolve any differences before submitting their proposed instructions to the Court.
Note-taking by jurors
Judge Mattice typically permits jurors to take notes.
Jury deliberations - exhibits
All exhibits properly introduced into evidence, with the exception of firearms, ammunition, and controlled substances, may be taken into the jury room during jury deliberations unless the Court specifically directs otherwise.
Written jury instructions provided to the jury
Judge Mattice will provide one written copy of the final instructions to the jury.
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 minutes of being notified to do so.
Polling the jury and post-verdict communication with jurors
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, but will be granted only sparingly.
12.  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.
13.  Temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and other emergency relief.
The parties must comply with all relevant provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. If an expedited hearing is sought, the parties should file a motion with the Court.
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.
14.  Prefer to receive copies of appellate filings when an appeal has been taken from an order.
15.  Settlement.
In all cases, the parties are urged to try to settle the matter among themselves, using mediation or another alternative dispute resolution method if helpful. Magistrate judges may be involved on a case-by-case basis as provided for in Local Rule 68.3.
Upon settlement, the parties are expected to immediately notify the Court by filing a notice of settlement on the Court's electronic case filing system. As soon as practicable thereafter, the parties shall file a stipulation of dismissal pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a)(1). If the parties fail to do so on their own initiative, the Court may order the parties to file a stipulation of dismissal within a certain time. If the parties do not file a stipulation of dismissal within the time provided, the Court will dismiss the action with prejudice.
16.  Procuedures as to Magistrate's reports.
Judge Mattice follows 28 U.S.C. §636.
17.  Media communications.
This matter is controlled by Local Rules 83.2 and 83.12, which counsel are required to follow.