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Susan K. Lee, United States Magistrate Judge

Chambers Address: 
900 Georgia Avenue, Room 401
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 752-5230

Staff Information

Judicial Assistant: 
Krista Starnes, (423) 752-5230
Courtroom Deputy: 
Courtney Camp, (423) 386-3518
Law Clerks: 
Ryan Hampstead

Documents


 

Courtroom


Chattanooga Courtroom 4

 

Judicial Preferences


1.  FAMILIARITY WITH LOCAL STANDARDS

 

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 in order to ensure efficiency and compliance with these standards.

 

2.  COMMUNICATION WITH THE COURT BEYOND FILINGS

 

A. Written Correspondence from Counsel to the Court

Written correspondence should not replace or augment pleadings, motions, or other papers that may be filed with the Court under Rule 7 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 47, and Local Rule 7.1. However, if a party sends any correspondence, including email, to the Court, the party must simultaneously provide copies to all other parties as is required by Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 49 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

 

B. Communication between counsel and the Judge’s law clerks.

 

Judge Lee strongly discourages ex parte communication between counsel and her law clerk or assistant. Communication that does occur should be in an email to lee_chambers@tned.uscourts.gov and shall not address the merits of the case or any pending motion and must include all counsel of record.

 

C. Telephone Conferences in Lieu of Personal Appearances

The Court expects all lawyers who will be actively involved in any discovery related motion to attend the hearing on any such motion.  Any attorney who expects to participate at trial must attend the final pretrial conference in person. Generally, the Court allows counsel to decide who should attend in person other proceedings such as hearings and oral arguments on non-discovery dispute motions. The Court may initiate a telephone conference in other situations when necessary. Well in advance of a hearing, counsel may request to attend said hearing by telephone in appropriate circumstances.

 

D. Courtesy Copies for Chambers/ Preference for courtesy copies of motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers.

 

Not typically required or requested but may be required or requested if attachments exceed 20 pages. All pleadings that refer to other pleadings in the record should reference the Document Number in CM/ECF of the referenced pleading.

 

3.  SCHEDULING

 

Civil Cases

A. Standard Form 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. Typically, the scheduling order will provide for the following deadlines in relation to the trial date:

Plaintiff’s Expert Disclosures;

21 weeks before trial

Defendant’s Expert Disclosures and Joinder of Parties & Amendment to Pleadings

 

Rebuttal Expert Disclosures by Plaintiff

17 weeks before trial

 

 

30 days after Deft expert disclosures

Final Witness List

15 weeks before trial

Conclusion of Discovery

13 weeks before trial

Dispositive Motions

11 weeks before trial

Daubert Motions

No later than close of discovery deadline

Pretrial Disclosures

9 weeks before trial

Motions in Limine, Proposed Jury Instructions or Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

4 weeks before trial

 

 

Final Pretrial Conference

2 weeks before trial

B. The Extent to which Counsel May Influence the Scheduling Order Extensions

The Court generally defers to reasonable input of counsel at the scheduling conference as to the length of the discovery period, the dates of particular deadlines, and the trial date set in the scheduling order. 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. Motions for an extension of time to file motions, responses, and replies or to comply with deadlines must be made 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 the 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.

C. Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

The Court expects the parties to have discussed and to have agreed upon the particular format of electronic discovery to be produced. If no agreement can be reached, the parties should be ready to discuss this issue in detail at the Rule 16 conference.

D. Discovery Following Dispositive Motions

Absent an order to the contrary, the filing of a dispositive motion does not stay discovery. Motions to stay the case or discovery pending the resolution of a dispositive motion will be granted only in unusual circumstances and on a case-by-case basis.  

 

4.  DISCOVERY

 

A. Discovery Disputes

Counsel for all parties are required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules to attempt to resolve discovery disputes before bringing them to the Court's attention.  All discovery undertaken pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 through 37, including without limitation the taking of depositions and requests for admission, shall be completed by the discovery deadline set in the scheduling order.  Any discovery-related motion practice must be fully completed by the discovery deadline.  After this date, the parties may jointly elect to conduct discovery by agreement, but the Court will not address any discovery disputes that may arise.

 

B. Expert Witnesses

Counsel should not contact expert witnesses engaged by opposing counsel or parties.  Written Expert reports are not submitted as exhibits to the jury. 

C. Confidentiality Agreements

The parties may enter a confidentiality agreement that will be binding upon the parties. With regard to filing documents under seal with the court, however, counsel must adhere to the requirements of Local Rule 26.2. and this Court’s standing orders.

 

 

5. MOTIONS and BRIEFS

 

A. 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.

 

B. Oral Arguments on Motions

The Court will schedule oral argument on a motion if it believes such argument will be useful. If a party believes oral argument on a motion would be particularly useful, the party may file a separate motion and a supporting memorandum of no more than five pages that explains why oral argument should be scheduled. Additionally, the Court believes it is crucial to provide substantive speaking opportunities to young lawyers, and that the benefits of doing so will accrue to young lawyers, to clients, and to the profession generally. Accordingly, the Court will consider, among other things, whether the requested oral argument presents a speaking opportunity for a young lawyer in determining whether to schedule oral argument on a motion.

C. Pages in Excess of the Limitations Set Forth in Local Rule 7.1(b)

A motion to exceed the page limitation should rarely be necessary and should only be made before the brief is due for filing.

D. Reply Briefs

As provided by Local Rule 7.1(c), "[u]nless otherwise stated by the Court, reply briefs are not necessary and are not required by the Court." All parties are expected to adhere to the terms of Local Rule 7.1(c), and, in the event a reply brief becomes necessary, that reply shall not exceed ten pages.

E. Motions for Extensions of Time

As noted above, motions for extensions of time to file motions or responses should 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 discretion.

F. Statements of Undisputed Facts Supporting Motions for Summary Judgment

The Court does not require statements of undisputed facts and typically will not consider them helpful unless they are jointly submitted. The parties must comply faithfully with the standards set forth in Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with regard to factual citations to the record.

 

6.  SETTLEMENT

A. Settlement

In all civil cases, the parties are urged to try to settle, using mediation or other alternative dispute resolution, if necessary.

B. Notifying Court of Settlement

Parties should immediately inform the Court once they reach settlement. Following settlement, the parties should promptly submit a stipulation of dismissal. The parties must submit a stipulation of dismissal or an agreed order of dismissal within 30 days or the trial date, whichever is sooner, unless otherwise directed by the Court. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 68.1.

 

7.  TRIALS

 

Before Trial

 

A. Trial Brief

The parties should file trial briefs on anticipated evidentiary and legal issues at least three business days before the Final Pretrial Conference.  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.

B. Motion in Limine

The Court prefers to rule on a motion in limine prior to trial, but, often, context available only at trial is necessary to determine the issues.  The parties are limited to raising all in limine issues in a single motion that lists all issues and a single supporting brief that is no more than 25 pages long. 

 

Conduct of Counsel at Trial

 

C. Voir Dire

Counsel will lead voir dire, subject to the Court's direction.

 

D. Time Limits for Opening and Closing Statements at Trial

The Court will consider counsel's input regarding reasonable time limits for opening statements and closing arguments.

E. Location of Counsel Examining Witnesses

Counsel must examine witnesses from the lectern and are to stand if physically able.

F. Sidebar Conferences

When possible, counsel should endeavor to raise sensitive 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 in order to avoid surprising the Court with a request for a sidebar conference. If a matter must be raised immediately and counsel is unsure whether the matter should be addressed to the Court prior to disclosure to the jury, then sidebars are allowed. If it appears to the Court during the sidebar that a lengthy conference is required, the jury may be excused.

 

G. Communication with Jurors after a Verdict

See Local Rule 48.1.

 

Witnesses and Exhibits

 

H. Exhibits

Before trial, counsel should become familiar with Local Rule 43.3 regarding the presentation of evidence.

I. Recorded Testimony

The Court expects counsel to discuss in advance of trial accommodations necessary for offering recorded testimony and to reach agreement on the method to be used.

 

J. Pre-Marking and Admission of Documentary and Photographic Exhibits and Other Demonstrative Evidence

Exhibits should be pre-marked according to the exhibit list the parties prepare, in compliance with the scheduling order. The parties should provide three copies of the exhibit list to the courtroom deputy before the trial begins. Counsel should stipulate to the admission of as many exhibits as possible in order that the trial not be unduly prolonged. In the event that the admission of documents is stipulated, counsel need not move the introduction of each individual exhibit. For exhibits whose admission are not stipulated, counsel should move their admission if and when the exhibits are presented at trial.

K. Preference for the Moving of Exhibits into Evidence at Trial

The Court has no preference as long as counsel follows the Federal Rules of Evidence.

L. Whether More than One Attorney May Examine a Witness

Only one attorney for a party may conduct examination and raise objections during the testimony of any given witness. If co-counsel who will not cross-examine a witness inadvertently announces an objection during direct examination, the mistake should be corrected immediately, and the attorney responsible for cross-examination should resume handling objections.

M. Examination of Witnesses Beyond Cross-Examination

The Court will typically allow re-direct examination, but not re-cross examination.

 

Jurors

N. Note-Taking by Jurors

Jurors are allowed to take notes.

O. Written Jury Instructions Provided to the Jury

The Court typically provides the jury a written copy of the final instructions when the jury begins deliberation.

P. Submission of Written Verdict Forms (in the Form of Interrogatories) to the Jury

The parties must confer regarding jury instructions as set out in the scheduling order and must include proposed verdict forms with their proposed jury instructions.

Q. Whether the Jury May Take Exhibits into the Jury Room for Deliberation

Jurors may have exhibits in the jury room for deliberation except for items which could impair safety. All exhibits that can be put into 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.

R. Jury Requests for Review of Testimony or Recorded Evidence

Any requests or questions are handled on a request-by-request basis after the Court confers with counsel.

S. Requirements as to Counsel's Location during Jury Deliberations

If counsel leaves the courthouse, he or she is responsible for providing the courtroom deputy his or her mobile telephone number and is responsible for answering the clerk's call. Counsel should be in a position to report to the courthouse within five minutes of notification by mobile telephone.

T. Polling of Jurors

When requested, the courtroom deputy will poll the jurors.