Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Michael Gordon

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Pre-Trial Practice and Management Issues

Motion Practice • The Court accepts courtesy copies of pleadings and especially appreciates copies of voluminous documents.  
• Single issues motions should be filed when possible.  
• Oral arguments are scheduled on dispositive motions if they are going to be scheduled at all. When requesting an oral argument, parties should expect they may well receive a ruling from the Bench instead, as I review motions, responses and replies very carefully.
Discovery or Disclosure Disputes and/or Sanctions • I prefer to be alerted of discovery issues as soon as they arise and will attempt to resolve such matters in an informal manner via telephone conference.  
• Counsel should consult one another before filing discovery motions. Once briefed, the Court may order the parties to meet before oral argument, in an effort to try one last time to resolve outstanding issues. If the parties are unable to resolve the controversies, wherein the case proceeds to a hearing, the Court will likely impose sanctions. Sanctions generally include the granting of reasonable attorney fees.  
• Please note the Court will always schedule, and frequently orders, mediation before disclosure of discovery in an attempt to save the parties attorney fees, preventing such fees from driving the outcome of the case.
Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments • Per the Court’s initial Rule 16 Order, it is important the Court receive Joint Comprehensive Pretrial Statement along with a proposed scheduling order for pre-trial conference Pretrial conference. If the parties agree on deadlines and they otherwise appear appropriate, it is unlikely the Court will set an initial pretrial conference. Rather, the Court will set a telephonic conference in order to determine whether to set a trial date---- the telephonic conference will occur after mediation but before the dispositive motion deadline.  
• Settlement conferences and ADR are usually required. Parties will have to explain why they ought not be required to engage in either process before the Court will allow them to forego mediation.  
• Rules must be followed when requesting expedited consideration.  
• Stipulations are accepted, however must set forth an explanation of what the parties are agreeing to and why. The Court will reject stipulations that to not include background on the agreement.  
• The Court encourages telephone conferences for all procedural matters.  
• The Court imposes time limitations and strictly enforces the same. For example, Summary Judgment is usually argued within an hour, with each side receiving equal time, unless the parties explain why time should be allocated differently.

Trial Practice and Protocol

Trial Schedule • Trials are scheduled Monday-through Thursday, with morning sessions held between 9:30am-12:00pm, and afternoon sessions held between 1:30pm-4:30pm. “Law and Motion” Day is Friday. The Court will set motions around others’ trial times, if necessary.  
• The Court will hold parties to the time allotted given to them at the final pretrial conference, to prevent jury inconvenience and to ensure overall fairness.  
• Party accommodations for disabilities and/or comfort may be requested of the Court.
Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections • Parties may be ordered file pretrial memorandums with the Court dealing with contested issues or motions in limine focusing on trial issues. Indeed, they are encouraged to do so in any event. The Court expects the parties will alert the Court to any sensitive issues that are either unusual or unique. Jury Selection • The Court utilizes the whole panel during voir dire, in place of the struck-and-replace method.  
• Mini-openings are not permitted.  
• The Court conducts voir dire and the parties are allowed to each engage in follow up questions with the jury.  
• Jury questionnaires are permitted in complex cases and with leave of Court.  
• The parties are free to give proposed questions for voir dire.  
• Challenging a juror for cause is done outside of jury presence.  
• The goal is to enable all jurors to deliberate and not to use the traditional “alternate” juror system. To do so, The Court encourages the parties to stipulate to a lower number of jurors should one juror need to be excused from the panel.  
• Standard jury instructions are generally used, however requests for special instructions will be considered by the Court.
Trial Practice and Procedure • As noted, time limitations will be honored.  
• Jurors may be given juror notebooks for use during a proceeding.
Courtroom Etiquette • The Court expects professionalism at every stage of the proceeding; counsel may disagree, but being disagreeable is unacceptable.