Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Danielle Viola
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Specific Comments or Advice for LitigantsSpecific Requirements or Preferences • Fax/Email communication: My staff may communicate with attorneys and their staff by email for scheduling purposes. This Division will accept facsimiles only if the party receives advance permission from Division staff. Documents that are sent by parties or counsel via facsimile must be filed before they are sent. Documents sent by facsimile must show the clerk of court stamp and must contain a certificate of mailing reflecting notice to all parties. Materials cannot be submitted to the Division without providing a copy to the other side, unless there is a basis for ex parte review.
Pre-Trial Practice and Management IssuesMotion Practice • No party should include more than one motion in a single filing or combine a response and a motion or a reply and a motion in one filing (with the exception of a true cross-motion for summary judgment). This applies to request for attorneys' fees or sanctions. Such requests should be made by separate motion.
• No party should file supplemental briefing without leave of Court.
• Page limits should not be exceeded without leave of court.
• Motions in Limine should not be filed in bench trials without leave of Court. Absent leave of Court for good cause shown, each party may file no more than five Motions in Limine. Motions in Limine should address only matters that are extremely prejudicial and could result in a mistrial. Motions in Limine should not be filed on routine evidentiary matters. Motions in Limine asking the Court to enforce a particular rule of evidence should not be filed. Motions in Limine are to be no more than four pages in length and responses are no more than four pages in length. There are no replies.
• Oral argument should not be a regurgitation of matters in the briefs. The Court will likely have questions at oral argument. Discovery or Disclosure Disputes and/or Sanctions • The Court generally follows Civil Rule 26(d). The Court's dispute resolution procedures outlined below shall apply to the following circumstances: (1) the parties have a discovery dispute that needs to be addressed; (2) one party seeks to compel another party to take some action; or (3) a party intends to seek sanctions against another party. Under any of these circumstances, counsel must personally speak to each other and engage in good faith attempts to resolve the dispute. If they cannot do so, the parties must file a "joint statement of discovery or disclosure dispute" and provide a copy to the division's judicial assistant.
• The joint statement must not exceed three pages and must contain a certificate of good faith consultation. No exhibits shall be included with the summaries. If, after reviewing a summary, the Court determines that it needs additional documents, division staff will contact the attorneys.
• The Court's Judicial Assistant will contact the parties to schedule a telephonic conference. The email address for the Court's Judicial Assistant, Mel Martinez, is Martinez@JBAZMC.maricopa.gov and the phone number is 602-506-3442.
Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments • Temporary Orders: Ex parte (without notice to the other party) temporary orders are appropriate in limited circumstances involving serious risk of injury and irreparable harm. As a result, ex parte temporary orders are granted only in rare circumstances, when supported by the information contained in the motion requesting a temporary order. If a request for either ex parte or a temporary order with notice is filed, it must comply with the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. This Division typically sets aside thirty minutes for hearings involving single issues, and one hour for hearings involving multiple issues.
• Notice of Settlement: This Division generally requires the parties and counsel to appear telephonically to put the full agreement on the record. This Division expects the settlement agreement to be complete, or the agreement to be placed on the record before vacating a trial or hearing. If the hearing to be vacated is for annulment, legal separation, or dissolution, this Division will take jurisdictional testimony during teleconference with the parties, so that flaws in the consent decree do not preclude the entry of a decree.
This Division will also set a date for the parties to submit a fully executed and complete decree. If the decree is not received by the date ordered, and if no good cause for extending the deadline is provided, the case will be dismissed. The case will be reinstated only when a motion to reinstate is filed and accompanied by a fully executed and complete decree. If one party is at fault for the delay, an award of attorneys’ fees and costs against the party who caused the delay may be considered.
• Expedited Consideration: Requests for expedited consideration must comply with the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. Any request for expedited or emergency relief should be hand-delivered to the other side (or faxed/emailed if hand-delivery is feasible).
• Expanded hearing/trial time: Counsel and/or the parties should submit a joint stipulation (or motion in the case of a disagreement) explaining the need for additional time. If appropriate, the trial or hearing time may be expanded but that may result in the matter being continued to another date and time. Parties and counsel should plan accordingly and avoid waiting until the last minute to request additional hearing/trial time.
• Continuances: Given the Court’s calendar, continuances are disfavored. A continuance is more likely to be granted if the request is filed at least thirty days in advance of a hearing, and less likely to be granted in matters where a prior continuance was granted. Parties and counsel are expected to timely serve discovery requests to avoid the need for a continuance based on a failure to obtain needed documents or information. Counsel and parties requesting a continuance should indicate in their motion whether the other party consents, or what efforts were made to obtain consent before filing the motion seeking a continuance.
• Telephonic Conferences: Telephonic conferences will be scheduled when it does not result in prejudice to the parties. The Court tends to schedule routine, administrative matters for telephonic conference (e.g., discovery disputes), however evidentiary hearings require the parties to appear in person absent prior Court approval (e.g., parties/witness resides out of state). A party seeking to appear by phone or requesting leave for a witness to appear by phone must file a motion making that request. The motion should explain the need for a telephonic appearance/testimony and whether the other side objects to the telephonic appearance/testimony. If a request is granted, use of a land line is requested. Additionally, if the telephonic appearance will result in long distance charges, the party or person appearing/testimony by telephone must contact the Division at the time set for the hearing at 602-506-3442.
• Time Limitations: A typical dissolution case is set for three hours if the case involves custody, parenting time, property allocation, and /or spousal maintenance. If the case is lacking complex issues, or both parties are self-represented, the proceeding may be scheduled for one hour.
• Attorneys’ Fees and Costs: Except for temporary orders for fees and costs because of a disparity of income or resources, attorneys’ fees and costs typically abide the entry of a final order regarding the pending issue. Upon a ruling from the bench, a party may be ordered to submit a China Doll affidavit (an affidavit containing information about the fees incurred by the client) to be filed. If the matter is under advisement, the Court will order a China Doll affidavit if fees and costs are awarded. After reviewing a China Doll affidavit, and any response and reply, if applicable, a ruling will be issued.
• Bi-furcation: Bi-furcating issues for trial may be appropriate in rare instances. The parties need to present a compelling reason.
Trial Practice and ProtocolTrial Schedule • The general trial schedule is 9:30 AM to noon and 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM. Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections • See discussion on motion practice for Motions in Limine.
• Please try to remove all duplicate exhibits.
• Stipulated exhibits may be admitted at the pre-trial management conference. If there are major issues about an exhibit, please be prepared to address them at the pre-trial management conference. Please have a copy of the exhibit in question for the Court.
• With large documents, please consider only having the operative language admitted.
• Counsel should discuss the notebooks and try to agree on what goes in the notebook. If they disagree, this can be discussed at the pre-trial management conference.
• In advance of the pre-trial management conference, all jury instructions, proposed voir dire, joint statement of the case (to be read to the jury) and deposition designations should be emailed in Word to the Court’s judicial assistant, Martinez@JBAZMC.maricopa.gov.
• Be prepared to discuss time limits at the pre-trial conference. Trial Practice and Procedure • Counsel are generally free to move around the courtroom during trial, but should request permission to approach the witness.
• Please stand when making objections.
• Objections should be short and succinct. There are no speaking objections allowed. If the Court wants a response or further discussion, the Court will ask for it.
• We have electronic equipment in the courtroom, which counsel are free to use. Please make an appointment before trial with court staff to talk about how to use the equipment.
• Bring issues to the Court’s attention as soon as possible to avoid the need to keep the jury waiting.
• Be prepared to track your allocated time during trial. Courtroom Etiquette • The Court expects lawyers to treat each other, opposing parties, court staff and everyone with respect.
• The Court expects counsel to assist the Clerk in making sure all exhibits are returned and organized at the end of the day.
• You are free to argue motions while sitting or standing and you are welcome to stay at counsel table or use the lectern.