Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Melissa Julian

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Specific Comments or Advice for Litigants

Specific Requirements or Preferences In light of the spread of more contagious variants of the Coronavirus, this division will continue to conduct status conferences, resolution management conferences, oral arguments, and shorter evidentiary hearings via Court Connect. We are setting longer or more complex evidentiary hearings in person, but I will liberally grant requests to convert them to virtual hearings if either a party or an attorney has good cause for the request. A link to our virtual courtroom will be included in the minute entry setting the hearing. Please be mindful of logging into the virtual courtroom a few minutes before your hearing begins to ensure that you are able to connect without technical problems. We have found that the application works more effectively if the Microsoft Teams application is downloaded on the user's device rather than connecting through your internet browser. Also, if you are using a home computer, your internet bandwidth may not be sufficient to display video and audio feeds. This can be worked around by using a phone for audio and using the internet device only to stream video, but would require setting up in advance and muting all microphones and sound on the device you are using for streaming video. Please ensure that you are in a quiet place and that your children are not present during the proceeding. Calling from a vehicle, a loud or noisy public location, or with third-parties in the background will not be permitted.  
Please provide a courtesy copy of your filing directly to my division if you have a matter for which you are seeking any accelerated hearing or ruling: Attorneys and self-represented parties need to understand that if you file something whether through the clerk or through the E-file system, I will not get it for several days in most cases. If it is something you want me to see quickly, such as for a pending trial, please deliver a copy to my division or place it in my mail box.  
Please provide orders for stipulations and motions: If you have a stipulation to a basic extension or other motion, please submit an order with the motion that sets forth the precise relief you are requesting/stipulating to.  
Motions with voluminous exhibits: If you are filing a motion that attaches several exhibits, please provide a bench copy of the motion and exhibits, preferably tabbed in a binder if possible.  
If you are submitting a china doll affidavit and proposed order following an order granting your client's fees and costs, please leave the amount on the proposed order blank and please try to remember to include the magic final judgment language required by Rule 78(c) in the attorneys' fees judgment.

Pre-Trial Practice and Management Issues

Motion Practice Motion Practice: Please double space your motions and avoid handwriting them if possible. Check to make sure that what you are filing is in the proper format and seeks the proper relief (i.e., check the rules to make sure that what you are filing actually can be filed as a motion instead of a petition).  
If expedited treatment is requested the request should state what has already been done to attempt to expedite the matter (personal consultation with opposing counsel, email service on opposing party, etc.). It should also include a proposed form of order that provides a response date or deadline or some other provision for the other sides right to be heard. It is not the responsibility of court staff to coordinate an expedited response with the other side.  
Oral Argument: The Court normally will not set oral argument unless it is requested. If it is requested, the Court will expect any additional information and probably not what has already been presented. This may be a time to explain arguments over which the Court needs clarity.
Discovery or Disclosure Disputes and/or Sanctions Please do not file written motions to compel and/or for sanctions as a first resort to seeking relief on a discovery dispute. My preference is that you jointly request a status conference by contacting my division. We will fit you in within 1-2 weeks for a telephonic conference and all I ask is that you file a brief two-page statement describing the issues and each party's position. All issues will be discussed on the record and I will attempt to resolve any issues without the need for additional briefing if possible. If the issues in dispute are legally novel or complex or involve disputed material facts, then I may still require you to submit briefing and I will certainly permit briefing if one or both parties believes it is needed to make a complete record. Nevertheless, the goal of the informal process at the outset is to allow me to intervene early in such disputes and to assist you in resolving minor issues without the need for either party to incur substantial fees or costs associated with minor discovery issues, where possible. Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments If you have paperwork that backs up what you going to tell me, be sure to bring it to court with you! Telling me the paper is at home does not help. Please note that you must provide copies of the documents you want me to consider to the other side well in advance of any trial date in addition to bringing them with you to court, you should also bring copies for me to review at the time of the trial.  
Petitions to modify legal decision making, and petitions to modify parenting time that would make one parent the primary residential parent or switch primary parenting responsibility from one parent to the other, must be served on the other party along with a notice of the right to file a written response pursuant to Rule 91(D). A Notice to Appear will not issue before a response has been filed or the time for response has run, unless a specific request is made and good cause shown.

Trial Practice and Protocol

Trial Schedule Hearings and Trials run from 9:00 a.m. to noon and/or 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Although we occasionally go a few minutes past noon or past 5 p.m., I try hard to avoid that because it is an imposition on court staff.  
If your presentation will involve financial records or other data compilations, please ask for enough court time to walk through the key points during the hearing. If you want me to consider records, I will do so. However, summaries of exhibits are useful tools to educate the court, provided in addition to the voluminous records.  
When filing a motion to set your case for trial, please be mindful that you will be able to get scheduled on our trial calendar more quickly if the motion to set is filed jointly or by stipulation of the parties. This tells us that neither party objects to the trial setting and we can immediately set your case for trial, rather than tickling the motion to set out for 2-3 weeks to see if the other party objects to the setting.
Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections Pretrial Statements:  
1. Submit one and please provide a courtesy copy to my division as well as filing the pretrial statement with the clerk’s office. If you need additional time beyond the deadline to submit your statement, please contact my judicial assistant and we will be as flexible with you as we can so long as exhibits are timely marked.  
2. If the parties are represented, the court expects both attorneys to work together to submit a single, joint pre-trial statement that sets forth their relative positions on each contested issue, lists all witnesses, exhibits, and objections to exhibits.  
a. Please do not mark duplicative exhibits as it wastes your precious time and your client's precious money and the duplicates will not be admitted. Coordinating with each other by submitting a joint pre-trial will help you avoid the submission of unnecessary duplicate documents. Also note that this division now requires submission of your exhibits electronically. Nevertheless, you will need to ensure that you have provided exhibits to your clients and witnesses in advance of the hearing. If the hearing is conducted in person, you may bring a set of hard copies of all marked exhibits for use during the trial or the court will display the electronically marked exhibits on the witness screen available in the court room. It is typically easier for attorneys to examine witness using hard copies for in person proceedings. If you wish to use audio or video recordings as exhibits, you may submit them to be marked by using a flash drive (do not submit CD-ROMs as county policy precludes me from inserting a foreign CD into my computer, so I won't be able to admit and view it that way).  
b. If your trial involves disputes regarding spousal maintenance, legal decision-making, parenting time, or relocation, please make sure to identify the statutory factors relevant to each issue in the order set forth in the statutes. Note that it is tremendously helpful to the court in considering all of the evidence presented as to each factor if you describe your evidence in the pretrial and then present your case in a manner that tracks the relevant factors in the same order set forth in the applicable statutes.  
c. If you are litigating property and debt issues, please include a joint and complete list setting forth all property and debts at issue (whether contested or agreed upon. Please include the legal description for any real property listed as well as the values for each item of property or debt listed as of the service date. If an item's value or amount is contested, list each party's proposed value or amount.  
3. If you are representing yourself, go to the self-help resource center and you will find a form to use for your pretrial statement. Make sure and fill it out completely and make sure and review the trial setting minute entry to ensure that you file all appropriate documents and submit exhibits correctly in advance of your trial date. Your failure to follow the rules may result in the exclusion of some of your evidence at trial.  
1. Stipulated admission of exhibits is encouraged, but not as a substitute for presenting the evidence to the witnesses and asking them to explain how it relates to the ultimate facts the Court is being asked to find. I will not allow parties to simply stipulate to all of the exhibits being admitted unless there are only a few. Otherwise, I need to ensure you explain the need for each exhibit.  
2. Although noted above, this bears repeating, PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT DUPLICATIVE EXHIBITS, work with the other party to identify what you both wish to use and mark only one copy.  
Cut and paste the following link for reference to a sample joint pretrial:
Trial Practice and Procedure Please provide me with a separate bench copy of your exhibits at the time of trial. When you do, make sure they are tabbed (separated easily). Don't be afraid to call my staff in advance of trial and ask for an exhibit worksheet if the clerk is finished marking the exhibits. This way, you can make sure your exhibits are numbered correctly when you hand them to me.  
On that topic, PLEASE ENSURE YOU GIVE THE CLERK EXHIBITS in the time frame stated in the trial setting minute entry. If you do not, they will be marked at the time of trial and this means you will have to use your time to have them marked.  
I keep track of time via a chess clock. I allocate time equally to ensure both sides a fair opportunity to be heard.  
If the parties have not invoked the strict rules of evidence, I will allow reliable hearsay but I give it the weight it merits. If the parties want me to hear from the children, they should request a parenting conference or a child interview if the children are old enough and mature enough to provide such information.  
Please note that if you engage in lengthy, speaking objections during another party’s case in chief to an excessive degree, I may deduct that time from you and not the other party.
Courtroom Etiquette Please be courteous to my staff. Remember that they can be helpful to you. But, please do not ask them for legal advice. They are not lawyers and they cannot answer those questions.  
Please do not argue with the other party. Your comments should always be directed to the Court and not to one another while court is in session.  
You may stand or sit at counsel table or use the podium, as you prefer. You do not have to ask permission to approach the witness, but you may not question the witness while standing next to the witness or directly in front of the witness stand without permission.  
Please remind those people who come with you to court that they are also expected to be courteous and abide by Courtroom procedures.
Other Courtroom Policies and Recommendations It is OK to call and ask about something that is pending, if you have waited for a reasonable amount of time but have not heard from us. Keep in mind, however, that we often have to allow time to pass before we act, to give the opposing party a chance to respond or for a variety of other reasons. Please also be aware that we are handling 800-1000 cases at any given time and receipt of multiple phone calls or emails checking on the status on a matter consumes a significant amount of time and makes it that much more difficult for us to address our pending matters substantively.