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Thomas W. Phillips, Senior United States District Judge

Chambers Address: 
800 Market Street, Suite 146
Knoxville TN 37902
(865) 545-4230

Staff Information

Courtroom Deputy: 
Jason Huffaker
Law Clerks: 
Jennifer Newton




Knoxville Courtroom 1A


Judicial Preferences

1.  Written correspondence from counsel to the court.
Written correspondence from counsel to the court is discouraged under most circumstances. If correspondence is directed to the court either by mail or email, copies should be sent to counsel for all parties.
2.  Communication between counsel and the Judge's law clerks.
Communication between counsel and the judge's law clerk is permitted, but such communication should not address the merits of any pending case.
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.
The use of telephone conferences is encouraged, and motions requiring a court appearance should be used only to address complicated matters concerning which the parties cannot agree. Telephone conferences may be scheduled through communication with the judge's Senior Law Clerk, Penny Arning.
4.  Preference regarding pro hac vice admissions.
No preference other than the requirement that attorneys follow the procedure set forth in Local Rule 83.5.
5.  Preference regarding oral arguments on motions.
Whether to allow oral argument on pending motions is made on a case-by-case basis and depends upon the complexity of the motion. Lawyers are always free to request oral argument, which may or may not be granted.
6.  Preference for courtesy copies of motions, briefs, and other writings for chambers.
Courtesy copies of motions and briefs are always appreciated and should be mailed or hand delivered to the Clerk's Office. Upon filing any dispositive motion, or other motion (or responsive pleading) which exceeds twenty-five (25) pages (including attachments), a courtesy hard copy shall be mailed or hand delivered to chambers.
7.  Standard form for scheduling order(s).
A copy of Judge Phillips' scheduling order is on the court's web site.
8.  Preferences regarding Federal Rule 16.
All attorneys are required to strictly adhere to the requirements of Rule 16, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
9.  Preferences regarding Federal Rule 26.
All attorneys are required to strictly adhere to the requirements of Rule 26, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
10.  The extent to which counsel may influence the length of the discovery period, extensions, trial dates, etc.
Counsel will be given the opportunity to express to the court how much time is required to prepare a case for trial, and the request of counsel will be considered by the court in setting a trial date. Once a trial date is set, however, counsel are expected to be prepared for the trial, absent exigent circumstances. While continuances may be granted for good cause, failure to adequately and timely prepare a case for trial is not considered to be, "good cause." Other than the dates for filing of dispositive motions, motions requiring a Daubert hearing, and the trial date, other discovery deadlines may be extended and/or modified by agreement, if all counsel of record agree thereto.
11.  The average amount of time allowed for discovery in a standard case.
Pretrial discovery in a standard case should be completed within eight or nine months, and the standard case should be ready for trial within one year.
12.  Preferred approach and procedures for handling discovery conferences and disputes.
Counsel should use their best efforts to resolve discovery disputes without court intervention. If this cannot be accomplished, the parties should contact the magistrate judge assigned to the case for a telephone conference to discuss the dispute. Should this not solve the dispute, a motion can be filed with the court and the certifications required by Rule 37(2)(A) and (B) must be strictly adhered to by counsel requesting relief.
13.  Preferences regarding the handling of confidentiality agreements.
The parties may agree to any confidentiality agreement which will be binding upon the parties. With regard to filing documents "under seal" with the court, however, counsel must strictly adhere to the requirements of Local Rule 26.2 and Proctor & Gamble Company v. Bankers Trust Co., 78 F.3d 219 (6th Cir. 1996).
14.  Preferences regarding requests for additional pages in excess of the page limitations set forth in Local Rule 7.1(b).
The page limitations established by Local Rule 7.1(b) should ordinarily be followed. Reasonable requests to exceed the page limitations in complex cases, however, 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.
Trial dates are set by order. Once set, continuances are discouraged and will only be granted for good cause.
16.  How needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses are accommodated.
Counsel should inform the court if there are any peculiar needs for out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses. If accommodations can be made without jeopardizing the cause of justice, the needs of out-of-town parties, attorneys, or witnesses will receive due consideration.
17.  Preferences regarding the delivery of written reports to the court by expert witnesses who are scheduled to testify.
Written reports by expert witnesses who are scheduled to testify need not be filed with the court unless a party files a motion in limine requesting a Daubert hearing. In that event, written reports of the expert witnesses being challenged must be filed with the court prior to the Daubert hearing pursuant to the requirements set out in the Scheduling Order.
18.  Preferences regarding the submission of trial briefs by counsel.
Trial briefs are not required in jury or non-jury cases. In the event that counsel would like to file a trial brief, the trial brief should be filed pursuant to the requirements set out in the Scheduling Order. After the completion of a non-jury trial, counsel will be instructed to file proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, which shall contain counsel's final arguments, according to a briefing schedule established by counsel and the court.
19.  Counsel participation in voir dire.
The court will conduct preliminary voir dire in both civil and criminal cases but allows counsel to conduct additional voir dire. Counsel shall be given latitude in conducting the voir dire so long as the voir dire does not become repetitious or overly intrusive. Back striking is not permitted during jury selection in either a civil or criminal case.
20.  Time limits for opening and closing statements at trial.
Counsel will be asked to establish time limits for opening and closing statements at the trial itself. Once agreed upon, however, counsel are required to follow the schedule.
21.  Preference for counsel to examine witnesses from counsel table or elsewhere, including whether you prefer counsel to remain seated while examining witnesses.
Counsel are to stand when examining witnesses and if not at the podium, in close proximity thereto. Counsel must never approach a witness in a jury trial without permission of the court, and are never allowed, under any circumstances, to stand, lean, or have any close contact with jurors in the jury box.
22.  Whether more than one attorney may handle trial for a party.
More than one attorney may handle a trial for a party, but only one attorney for a party may examine or cross-examine a witness.
23.  Preference for handling sidebar conferences.
Sidebar conferences are allowed and encouraged if counsel is unsure whether a matter should be addressed to the court prior to disclosure to the jury. If it appears to the court during the sidebar that a lengthy conference is required, the jury will be excused.
24.  Preference or requirements for introducing videotaped testimony.
The courtroom deputy clerk should be given advance notice that a party intends to introduce videotaped testimony so that the equipment will be available as needed.
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 the dates for exchanging exhibit lists and reviewing exhibits. Any exhibits which are to be introduced at trial must be premarked at the final pretrial conference.
26.  Preference for the moving of exhibits into evidence at trial.
Counsel should stipulate to the introduction of as many exhibits as possible in order that the trial will not be unduly delayed. In the event that the admission of documents is stipulated, counsel need not move the introduction of each individual exhibit. For exhibits which are not stipulated, counsel should move their admission if and when the documents are presented at trial.
27.  Allowance of examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross.
Examination of witnesses beyond redirect and recross will not be permitted absent compelling circumstances.
28.  Special requirements for reading of depositions or other material onto the record at trial.
No preference.
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.
Motions in limine shall be addressed, and in most instances resolved, at the final pretrial conference. The procedure for filing in limine motions are governed by the scheduling order entered in each case.
31.  Practice for the receipt of proposed jury instructions, including the form of jury instruction.
The procedure for filing proposed jury instructions is governed by the scheduling order entered in each case. A charge conference shall be held after the conclusion of the proof in a jury trial, and additional requests for jury instructions will be considered by the court at that time.
32.  Note-Taking by jurors.
This is allowed.
33.  Whether the jury may take exhibits into the jury room for deliberation and, if so, any limits.
All exhibits properly introduced into evidence shall be taken into the jury room during jury deliberations unless the court specifically directs otherwise.
34.  Preference regarding the submission of written verdict forms (in the form of interrogatory questions) to the jury.
Counsel are permitted to submit proposed verdict forms for consideration by the court, but the court will prepare the form that is actually submitted to the jurors.
35.  Written jury instructions provided to the jury.
36.  Requirements as to counsel's whereabouts during jury deliberations.
Counsel should notify the courtroom deputy of his or her whereabouts and be able to return to court within ten (10) minutes of being notified to do so.
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.
The court will poll the jury in each jury case. Local Rule 48.1 prohibits counsel from contacting or communicating with any jurors without prior leave of court, and absent extraordinary circumstances, counsel will not be permitted to interview the jurors after verdict.
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.
This matter is governed by Rule 65, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
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.
The requirements of Rule 65, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, shall be strictly adhered to by counsel and extraordinary relief shall be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. Expedited discovery may be granted under compelling circumstances, but counsel shall not be permitted to circumvent the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by seeking expedited discovery in cases which clearly do not qualify for Rule 65 relief. In the event that expedited discovery is permitted, counsel will be directed to file written briefs on an expedited basis.
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 and arbitration, and other alternative dispute resolution methods, are allowed and encouraged. Reasonable extensions of deadlines and trial dates to allow the pursuit of arbitration and/or mediation are usually granted.
43.  Extent to which practices and procedures in criminal cases are varied from those in civil cases.
Trial practices are the same, but the pretrial preparation of criminal cases is controlled by the magistrate judge assigned to the case. Counsel should follow the order on discovery and scheduling entered in a criminal case by the magistrate judge, and the scheduling order entered by the district judge in a civil case.
44.  Procedures as to magistrate's reports.
The court follows 28 U.S.C. 636.
45.  Media communications.
This matter is controlled by Local Rule 83.2, which the court and counsel are required to follow.