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Protocol and Practice of Persons Appearing in the Court of Judge Jennifer Ryan-Touhill << return to previous page
Specific Comments or Advice for Litigants Specific Requirements or Preferences The judicial system is the mechanism by which our society upholds the law. This system requires respect, courtesy, impartiality, and fairness--all behaviors I strive to exhibit in my courtroom. While I understand litigation is an adversarial process, I expect the professionals and litigants participating in this system will show each other and the judicial institution itself the respect and courtesy one would show a friend, family member, or stranger on the street.  
Everyone involved in the judicial system is important and valued--this includes security officers at entrances to the courthouse, employees at the clerk's office, judge's staff, and everyone else with a role at court. I expect these individuals will receive the same level of respect and courtesy provided to me, the judge.  
Family Court is stressful; emotions run high, disputes are extremely personal, and the parties feel grief. This may cause litigants to behave poorly and, perhaps, irrationally. Please remember to treat each other with sensitivity and, if possible, empathy.  
For self represented litigants or newer attorneys: I know you are nervous. I know you are worried. I know you may not be a lawyer. Please remember that we all had to start somewhere and, I, too, have felt nervous, scared, or inexperienced. This won't last forever--we will resolve the case and I will strive to ensure resolution is fair and just in accordance with Arizona law.
Pre-Trial Practice and Management Issues Motion Practice E-filing does not come to the assigned division immediately; if you want me to see a pleading quickly you must deliver a copy to my division.  
Anything you want me to consider you must provide to the other party/parties in the case.  
When you file a motion you must communicate with the other party/parties to obtain their position in the motion if the matter is time-sensitive.  
Talk. Talk again. Or if talking isn't working. . . write. Narrow the scope of the disputes--I rarely see a situation where parties cannot resolve anything at all and must have the judge decide every issue pending. Be prepared to negotiate--no one will be 100% happy but both parties should feel the outcome is reasonable under the circumstances.  
To the extent you have not talked (or written). . . please be prepared to explain to me why you have failed to do so. To the extent you have not responded to the other party's efforts to talk (or write). . . please be prepared to explain to me why you have failed to do so.
Discovery or Disclosure Disputes and/or Sanctions If you have a discovery dispute please put it in writing--a quick motion will suffice--and ask this Court to set a telephonic hearing for me to address the matter. This way everyone is aware of the dispute and what is alleged to have happened/not happened.  
I try to refrain from "sealing" documents or files. I will have a pleading or document marked as "confidential" upon good cause shown.  
Sanctions are mandatory when I grant a motion to compel.  
I will award attorney's fees when I deem it appropriate. I review the billing statement and will consider the reasonableness of the charges listed.
Other Pre-trial Practice Guidelines or Comments ALWAYS submit a form of order with your motion. Please avoid rhetoric--your order may be useless to me if it contains argument or has a disrespectful tone.  
Read the minute entry. I expect you to follow the orders. They are orders, not suggestions.  
If you are self-represented, please remember you can utilize the court's self-service center for forms and instructions.
Trial Practice and Protocol Courtroom Etiquette My courtroom is a balance of informality and respect. (By now you should realize I value respect.) You may stand or sit--just be close to a microphone. I can hear you wherever you are but that doesn't mean your voice will be recorded on FTR. This may result in an incomplete record.  
I do not focus on form over substance. I do not, however, respond well to surprises.  
I run my calendar on time. There are always unavoidable exceptions; however, expect to present your case in the time allotted for your trial.  
Court is open to the public but this does not mean the public has a right to be heard as they choose. Both verbal and non-verbal communication is unacceptable and I will excuse a person from the courtroom if I believe they fail to show the judicial institution the respect it deserves. Furthermore, the parties are already in enough conflict without having family and friends increasing a fight in the hallway or on social media.  
Reduce conflict, don't increase it.  
Talk to me--don't talk to each other.  
Play fair.  
Put things back where you found them.  
Don't take things that don't belong to you.  
Apologize when you've hurt someone.  
Take accountability for your own actions--this is where you have control.  
Be kind to yourself.  
Remember, today is the day you should behave as you wish to be remembered.
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