Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Alison Bachus
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Specific Comments or Advice for LitigantsSpecific Requirements or Preferences Welcome to Judge Bachus' court. We are located in the Northeast Regional Court Center. Our address is 18380 North 40th Street, Suite F, Phoenix, Arizona 85032. Our courtroom is Courtroom 111. Our division phone number is 602-506-7569.
Marlene Hovorka is the Judicial Assistant and her email address is Marlene.Hovorka@jbazmc.maricopa.gov.
Bory Reth is the Courtroom Assistant (Bailiff) and her email address is Bory.Reth@jbazmc.maricopa.gov.
Other General Information:
The Court expects all parties and counsel to treat each other, opposing parties, court staff, and everyone with respect. Further, all parties and lawyers must follow the applicable court rules. See Higgins v. Higgins, 194 Ariz. 266 (App. 1999) (a person who represents him/herself is held to the same familiarity with court procedures and the same notice of statutes, rules, and legal principles as is expected of an attorney).
Be prompt. The Court understands that emergencies arise that cause people to be late. However, if such an instance occurs, parties and/or counsel are expected to call the Division to notify us of tardiness. Failure to do so will likely result in the Court indicating on the record that your appearance is without good cause, and the Court may proceed in your absence (depending on the circumstance).
Pre-Trial Practice and Management IssuesMotion Practice Judge Bachus handles most motions through eFile, so lodging an electronic form of order (in Microsoft Word, not pdf) is strongly encouraged. There is no need to insert the word “Proposed” in the form of order.
If an extension of time to respond/reply to motions is sought, please file a motion (and proposed form of order). Division staff are not authorized to give extensions over the phone.
Double check legal citations prior to filing and include pin cites, directing the Court to specific pages of supporting authorities.
Judge Bachus appreciates receiving courtesy copies of lengthy papers (greater than 50 pages), such as a motion for summary judgment and accompanying statement of facts (plus exhibits). If you submit a courtesy copy, please wait until briefing is complete. Also, you must notify all other parties/lawyers at least one business day in advance of doing so. Please coordinate with the other parties/lawyers; if everyone intends to submit a courtesy copy, the Court appreciates receiving one binder with all relevant papers in it in chronological order.
When the attachments or exhibits are voluminous (>50 pages), consecutively paginate those attachments. Refer to those page numbers in your brief. For example, cite to "SOF 537" (i.e., page 537 of your SOF attachments) in the brief rather than "SOF ¶ 32." We don't have exhibit tabs most of the time, so finding where one exhibit ends and the next begins is not always easy. Even more helpful is telling the Court what you are citing, such as "SOF 537 (J. Jones Dep. at 24:17-25)." If you rely on a deposition, attach only the deposition cover page, the pages with the relevant testimony, and the court reporter’s certification.
When submitting to our Division a copy of a document (regardless of whether you are submitting it by fax, mail, e-mail, or hand-delivery), only submit a file-stamped copy (i.e., a copy with the Clerk of Court’s filing stamp indicating the date the document was filed). The Court can only act on documents that are actually filed with the Clerk of Court.
All motions must adhere to the page limitations in the court rules. If you believe the page limitation needs to be extended, you should file a motion for relief and explain why.
Use 13-point font in text and footnotes. Ariz. R. Civ. P. 5.2(b)(1)(B).
Do not combine requests for relief. For example, do not include a request for sanctions in response to the other side’s motion.
Do not e-mail the Division a copy of motions unless specifically requested to do so by Division staff, or unless the motion is requesting expedited review.
Temporary Restraining Orders/Preliminary Injunctions:
The Court typically sets a brief return hearing on applications for temporary restraining orders or preliminary injunctions. Judge Bachus may not have the time to read, decide, and rule the same day you file a TRO application, especially if you filed after noon or on a day in which Judge Bachus in trial, so please plan accordingly. Please support your application as the applicable statutes and rules require. If you do not, Judge Bachus will likely summarily deny your application.
Expedited or Emergency Review:
If you seek expedited review, you must include the word “expedited” to the right of the caption. In addition, deliver a copy of the filing to the Division or call the JA to let the Division know you have requested expedited review; if you do not, your papers may be lost in the shuffle of other eFile submissions. If the Court grants the request for expedited/emergency consideration, a minute entry with an expedited schedule will issue.
Do NOT request expedited review unless it is truly necessary. Oral argument or a ruling where it appears that the moving party's delay caused the purported urgency will not be expedited. In addition, a matter will not be heard ahead of other matters when the moving party could have filed the motion much sooner. Requests for accelerated/expedited rulings should be made only when unforeseen circumstances arise.
Motions for Summary Judgment:
The opening paragraph of your motion for summary judgment (or a motion to dismiss) should identify the claims/defenses at issue and relief requested. For example:
• “Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on Count One (intentional interference with contractual relations) and Count Three (breach of contract) of the Complaint.”
• “Plaintiff is entitled to partial summary judgment on Count One (negligence) and Count Two (intentional tort – battery) with the amount of compensatory damages and punitive damages to be proven at trial.”
• “Plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment on Count One (breach of contract) and entitled to liquidated damages of $50,000.00 with prejudgment interest and post-judgment interest at ____%.” Do not leave it to the Court to find the amount of damages in your papers.
As indicated above in these guidelines, the Court appreciates receiving courtesy copies of submissions that are 50 pages or greater. If you submit a courtesy copy, please wait until briefing is complete. Also, you must notify all other parties/lawyers at least one business day in advance of doing so. Please coordinate with the other parties/lawyers; if everyone intends to submit a courtesy copy, the Court appreciates receiving one binder with all relevant papers in it in chronological order.
Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) does not allow the moving party file a “response” to the opposing party’s statement of facts; this Court also prohibits such “responses.” The moving party must include any objections to the opposing party’s evidence in the reply brief.
The Court prohibits “cross-motions” or “counter-motions” for summary judgment.
Motions in Limine:
Judge Bachus limits motions in limine and responses to five pages. Replies are not permitted. Each motion in limine must address only one topic. Each side (not party) is limited to five motions in limine. The lawyers (or self-represented parties) must meet and confer before filing any motions in limine.
Motions to exclude expert witnesses are not treated as motions in limine. The deadline to move to exclude an expert under Daubert/Arizona Rule of Evidence 702 is the same as the dispositive motion deadline.
Motions About Improper Disclosures:
Motions to exclude untimely or improperly disclosed information or arguments are due 28 days after that untimely or improper disclosure. You must meet and confer before filing such motions.
Multiple Motions/Requests for Relief in One Filing Not Permitted:
Do not combine more than one motion in a single filing or combine a response and a motion, or a reply and a motion, in one filing.
We usually are not able to retrieve e-filed papers for three to seven business days. If you file something within three days or less of a hearing, it is unlikely that Judge Bachus will have seen or read it. Thus, please email any last-minute filings to the JA (and call to tell her you sent it) or hand-deliver hardcopies.
Discovery or Disclosure Disputes and/or Sanctions As the rules require, you must meet and confer before filing a discovery motion. Meeting and conferring requires at least a telephone call—emails/letters alone are insufficient.
If you are in the middle of a deposition and need an issue resolved immediately, you may call the JA. If Judge Bachus is available, she will do her best to resolve the dispute at that time. If the Judge is unavailable, the parties should continue with the deposition by moving to other topics. You may need to reconvene the deposition another day.
Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments The Court expects all individuals – whether lawyers or person representing themselves -- to promptly respond to communications from opposing counsel. However, parties should not inundate the other side with voluminous e-mails or other communications.
Judge Bachus follows all COVID-related restrictions set by administrative order and will require all litigants/jurors/witnesses/persons in the courtroom gallery to do the same.
Judge Bachus holds many hearings via video/audio conference using Microsoft Teams (Court Connect). For example, status conferences and trial setting conferences are held remotely. For remote hearings, all parties are strongly urged to appear by video. Court hearings work better when the Court and counsel can see each other. The instructions for accessing Teams may be found in the minute entry setting your hearing. Please contact division staff with any questions. Please note that final trial management conferences, oral arguments, and trials are conducted in person, not remotely.
Trial Practice and ProtocolTrial Schedule It is important that jurors not needlessly wait for us to resolve issues that we could have resolved before the jurors arrived. Thus, trial counsel must arrive fifteen minutes before trial begins in the morning and resumes after lunch to address such issues. Please be on time. If you have an issue that requires more time, please let the Judge know in advance.
Trials typically are Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. It is common during trial for the lawyers and Court staff to address issues for part of the lunch break. Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections Do not use the joint pretrial statement to reiterate the facts you intend to prove to the jury, to re-argue motions, etc. The value of a joint pre-trial statement is to prepare the parties and the Court for the mechanics of the trial. Focus on identifying exhibits and objections to exhibits, ensuring you listed witnesses, completing deposition designations and objections to them, jury instructions (try to agree as much as possible), and the joint statement to read to the venire and in preliminary instructions.
It takes a long time to mark exhibits so please follow the schedule in the trial setting minute entry. If you have exhibits for an evidentiary hearing, please bring them at least three days in advance for marking. Judge Bachus encourages parties to stipulate to admit as many exhibits as possible. Please do not refuse to stipulate just to force the opposing party to jump through evidentiary hoops. Laying the foundation for exhibits that neither party disputes needlessly extends the trial, causing frustration for jurors.
You waive objections to exhibits that you don't specifically state in the joint pretrial statement. Blanket objections do not suffice (e.g., "Defendant objects to all untimely disclosed exhibits.").
Jury Selection Submit a stipulated short summary of the case so that Judge Bachus can read it to the jury at the beginning of jury selection.
Judge Bachus utilizes juror questionnaires with great frequency. The Judge will review the parties’ proposed voir dire questions and include questions deemed appropriate for a questionnaire. Because the literature shows that potential jurors are more likely to be candid regarding certain topics in writing, the questionnaire will be employed for sensitive issues (e.g., prior history of sexual assault in a sexual assault case). The questionnaire will also be used for hardship. The link to the questionnaire will be circulated to the parties no later than a week before trial. On the morning of voir dire, potential jurors will complete the questionnaire in the jury assembly room. Counsel and the Court will electronically receive the questionnaire results in the courtroom, and the Court will hear argument on excusing potential jurors based on questionnaire responses as appropriate. After any jurors are excused based on the questionnaire, remaining venire panel members will be brought into the courtroom. The Court will voir dire the entire panel and then allow the attorneys some time to question the jury. The attorneys usually need 20 minutes or fewer, but the Court allows some latitude in this regard, given peremptory strikes are no longer allowed.
Judge Bachus tends to seat nine jurors and strongly encourages lawyers to allow the alternate juror to deliberate. Trial Practice and Procedure The Court often uses a timer to keep track of time limitations. The timer runs through your voir dire, openings, examination, and closings. Judge Bachus will likely not provide a running tally of your remaining time, but you are welcome to ask for your balance.
If you anticipate timeliness objections to your evidence, have your disclosure log ready to provide a cite to the Court as far as when you disclosed a specific document/exhibit to the other side.
Do not make speaking objections. Objections should refer either to the rule by number or subject (e.g., “hearsay”). The Judge may ask the other side for a response. When responding, please keep your response to a brief explanation (e.g., “present sense impression” or “effect on the listener”).
Please arrive early and test any technology you will use at trial so that there are no delays during trial. Our courtroom has a document camera, DVD, laptop interface, and flat screen TV. We record proceedings electronically.
You are welcome to use any trial software you wish, but please test it first. You are welcome to ask for time to practice with it in Judge Bachus’ courtroom in the days leading up to trial. Please contact the Division to set up a time to do so.
Provide opposing counsel with any demonstrative exhibits at least 24 business hours before you intend to use and notify the Court in advance if there are any objections. Courtroom Etiquette Silence all electronic devices before entering the courtroom. During evidentiary hearings, parties and witnesses must turn off phones.
Lawyers/self-represented litigants should stand when stating their appearance.
Lawyers/self-represented litigants generally should stay near the lectern or counsel table unless approaching a witness with an exhibit. You must request permission to approach a witness. You need only ask once for permission to approach a witness; you do not need to request multiple times if you're showing the witness several exhibits.
Lawyers/self-represented litigants should stand when making objections.
Lawyers/self-represented litigants cannot direct comments to one another during oral argument or trial unless you ask for permission.
Other Courtroom Policies and Recommendations Judge Bachus adds specific protocols to every scheduling order. READ THESE THOROUGHLY AND FOLLOW THEM.