Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Brad Astrowsky


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Specific Comments or Advice for Litigants

Specific Requirements or Preferences The Court understands that when a party represents him/herself without an attorney that the entire Court process can seem overwhelming and confusing. Therefore, the Court will do its best to explain the Court process and answer any questions you may have. The Court will also give you time to ask your questions. Please note, however, the Court cannot give legal advice.  
 
Court rules and the law apply equally to parties represented by attorneys and parties who represent themselves. The Court, however, does not expect perfection from those who represent themselves. Nevertheless, it is best for parties to familiarize themselves with the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure and applicable laws.  
 
The Court has information on its website to assist you. In addition, people are encouraged to visit the Self Service Center located on the first floor of the East Court Building where parties may obtain information and assistance with the Court process.  
 
Parties are able to call (602-372-2048) or e-mail this Division with questions concerning the status of their case or Court orders. However, please note that Court staff are not permitted to provide legal advice.  
 
Also note that we understand and appreciate that your case involves personal issues that often are emotionally difficult. Nevertheless, we still expect you to be courteous to Court staff. Court staff are an extension of the Court, so please treat them in the same way that you would treat the Judge in the courtroom.

Pre-Trial Practice and Management Issues

Motion Practice All Motions requesting the Court to do something, e.g. continue a hearing, set a hearing, or withdraw an attorney from a case must also be accompanied by a draft Order.  
 
In addition, the Court highlights Rule 9(c), ARFLP. The Court expects any party who moves to continue a hearing, for example, to include in their Motion a certification that they contacted the other party and whether or not the other party agrees with or opposes the Motion.  
 
Prior to any party filing a Motion to Compel Discovery, that party must meet and confer with opposing counsel. The meet and confer must be in person or by telephone, it may not merely be by letter or e-mail. The purpose of the meet and confer is an attempt for the parties to resolve the discovery dispute without court intervention. Any Motion to Compel Discovery should include an avowal that the meet and confer occurred.  
 
If the parties desire, the Court is willing to help mediate and/or resolve any disputes prior to either party filing a Motion to Compel. The parties may contact this Division to schedule a status conference or informal telephone conference with the Court. Once a Motion to Compel is filed and the Court has to resolve same, the Court will most likely also issue an award for attorney's fees. Therefore, it may always be best for the parties to work cooperatively to settle any disputes or to involve the Court, informally, to address same.  
 
Discovery or Disclosure Disputes and/or Sanctions Prior to any party filing a Motion to Compel Discovery, that party must meet and confer with opposing counsel. The meet and confer must be in person or by telephone, it may not merely be by letter or e-mail. The purpose of the meet and confer is an attempt for the parties to resolve the discovery dispute without court intervention. Any Motion to Compel Discovery should include an avowal that the meet and confer occurred. If the parties desire, the Court is willing to help mediate and/or resolve any disputes prior to either party filing a Motion to Compel. The parties may contact this Division to schedule a status conference or informal telephone conference with the Court. Once a Motion to Compel is filed and the Court has to resolve same, the Court will likely also issue an award for attorney's fees. Therefore, it may always be best for the parties to work cooperatively to settle any disputes or to involve the Court, informally, to address same.  
Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments Attorney requests to withdraw that are filed within 30 days of a scheduled evidentiary hearing or trial are not likely to be granted unless there is a clearly stated ethical issue or other emergent issue that would warrant the withdrawal so close to the scheduled trial or hearing date.  
 
Any request to withdraw that is made within 30 days of trial that doesn't provide the Court good cause to grant it based upon the written request, will be addressed on the day of the scheduled hearing unless the moving attorney requests a status conference to address same and the Court is able to schedule same prior to the scheduled trial or hearing.

Trial Practice and Protocol

Trial Schedule Typically, when scheduling a trial the Court will defer to the parties concerning the amount of courtroom-time the parties require to adequately present their respective cases for trial. The Court will then expect the parties to complete the trial within the time allotted. Generally, the Court will deny a request for additional trial time on the day of trial unless the parties have acted in good faith, made appropriate use of the time allotted, and still require additional time to fairly present evidence to the Court.  
 
Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections The Court expects all parties to file a Pretrial Statement. If the parties cannot work together to file a Joint Pretrial Statement, each party will need to file a Separate Pretrial Statement in advance of any trial or evidentiary hearing.  
 
The Court expects all parties to file an updated Affidavit of Financial Information in advance of any trial or evidentiary hearing at which spousal maintenance, child support, attorney's fees, or other financial issues will be addressed.  
 
 
Trial Practice and Procedure The Court will give you wide latitude to try your case in the manner you deem appropriate. Please note, however, that as the Court is the trier of fact, the Court will likely have questions for the witnesses.  
 
The Court requires all parties to provide it with a separate copy of all marked exhibits for the Court's use during trial. As the courtroom prohibits the publication of exhibits in a manner that permits the Court to view the exhibit, the Court requires its own copy of the exhibits so that the Court may look at the exhibit as it is being referenced during the examination of a witness. The Court copy of exhibits may be provided at the time of the trial or evidentiary hearing.  
 
The trial time will be equally divided between the parties. The Court will keep track of the time and provide the parties with updates concerning the time remaining. Parties may also ask for a time check whenever a party so desires.  
 
Self-represented litigants must remain seated at their table when questioning a witness. If any exhibits need to be shown to a witness, the bailiff or Court will assist.  
 
Attorneys may examine witnesses from counsel's table (either standing or seated), from the podium, or in any other manner that is most comfortable for that attorney. Please be sure, however, if you examine a witness when you are away from a microphone that you speak up clearly and loudly enough so that your voice may be included in the audio recording of the trial.  
 
If an attorney has asked to approach a witness once, they need not ask again during the examination of that same witness.  
 
Objections to questions should simply include the legal basis for the objection, e.g. "Objection, foundation." The Court will then, if necessary, ask for further clarification or argument. Kindly avoid speaking objections.  
 
 
 
Courtroom Etiquette The Court will treat everyone that comes into the courtroom with dignity and respect. The Court expects the same from everyone who enters the courtroom.  
 
Therefore, please do not interrupt the other side (except for objections) when the other side is speaking. The Court will give you an opportunity to respond and provide the Court with your perspective. Also, please direct your comments to the Court. Do not respond directly to the other party or counsel - unless specifically directed to do so by the Court.  
 
In addition, gratuitous non-verbal communication is extremely disruptive and not appreciated by the Court. Such behavior may be taken into account when the Court makes its decisions concerning legal decision-making and/or parenting time; it may also reflect upon the credibility of a party and/or witness.  
 
The courtroom is a public forum and any member of the public is welcome to attend. Please remind anyone who accompanies you to Court that the rules of courtroom behavior apply to spectators as well as to the parties.  
 
The Court does not have a general bar on children being present in the courtroom. However, children who are at issue in a case are best left at home or supervised in the hallway unless otherwise directed by the Court. It is probably not in a child's best interests to hear the parents fight or argue in Court. It is best to not involve a child in family court cases unless it is absolutely unavoidable.  
 
Children who are not involved in a case will only be asked to leave the court if they become a distraction from the hearing.  
 
Please note that the Court does not have the facilities or staff to provide child care during a hearing. Therefore, please plan accordingly. Children cannot be left unattended in the court hallways.
Other Courtroom Policies and Recommendations Each Court hearing is video and audio recorded by the Court. Parties, guests, witnesses, or other members of the public are prohibited from recording the Court hearings or from taking pictures in the courtroom. Exceptions are made, generally for the media, with advance notice and permission of the Court, in compliance with the Supreme Court Rules.  
 
Anyone who records or photographs court hearings without prior approval of the Court may be subject to involvement with Court security and contempt proceedings.