Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Stasy Avelar

Specific Comments or Advice for Litigants

Specific Requirements or Preferences

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.  
Many of the forms you may need can be found on the Court's website here:  
If the case involves spousal maintenance, child support or a request for attorney's fees, please file with the Court and have marked as an exhibit for your hearing a current copy of your Affidavit of Financial Information (AFI).  

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

The rules require that you exchange any exhibits and witnesses with the other party 30 days before your trial. You must include what topics the witnesses are going to discuss, as well as contact information for them.  
The failure to disclose the witnesses or exhibits could lead to the Court not admitting the evidence you want me to look at or not allowing your witnesses to testify.  
The forms for disclosure are available here:

Trial Practice and Protocol

Trial Schedule

Hearings and Trials run from 9:00 a.m. to noon and/or 1:45 to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 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.  
If a trial is set for three hours typically that means each side will be allowed 80 minutes for their side which includes direct and cross-examination of any witnesses. The Court also reserves time for breaks and for the Court to ask any questions.  
At the end of the trial if you have not moved to admit your exhibits the Clerk will ask if they can destroy them which means the Court will never see them.  
Currently we are doing Hybrid hearings which allows the parties and their lawyers to be live in the courtroom, while witnesses are appearing on the TEAMS platform via video. Therefore, it is very important that your witnesses have any exhibits that you want them to testify about.  

Joint Pre-Trial Memo and/or Conference; Exhibits and Objections

Exhibits can be submitted to the Court either in person to our division box in the hallway by the Clerk or electronically via the Clerk's website. Exhibits must have been disclosed to the other side in order to be admitted. If you submit your exhibits electronically you will need to bring a copy with you if you want a witness to testify about it.  
More information about submitting exhibits can be found here  
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.  
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

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.  
If you want to play a recording (video or audio) in the courtroom, the exhibit must be marked as an exhibit. The Court REQUIRES each audio/video clip to be on a separate flash drive. THESE MUST BE SUBMITTED THE WEEK PRIOR TO YOUR TRIAL TO THE CLERK FOR MARKING. I will not hear recordings from your phone or computer.  
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.  
Due to covid restrictions currently in place in the courtroom you MUST sit at all times at counsel table. There can be no roaming around the courtroom.