Civil and Criminal Practices and Procedures
A. Commencement of Civil Action - General Procedures
1. Case Management / Electronic Case Files System
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio utilizes a Case Management / Electronic Case Files System (CM/ECF) docketing system. The CM/ECF system provides the bench, the bar and the public with electronic access to up-to-the minute docket sheets as well as to the documents themselves.
It is the court's expectation that, absent a showing of good cause, all counsel who regularly practice in this district will file electronically and accept electronic notice of filings in any civil case before this court. For those civil cases in which the court determines that good cause is shown for not filing electronically, all documents that are filed on paper will be scanned by the Clerk's Office and placed into the CM/ECF system.
2. Case Management Conference (CMC)
Held approximately 30 days after an Answer has been filed.
The court follows Local Rule 16(b) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 regarding the agenda for the CMC, the parties' planning meeting and initial disclosures. Plaintiff's counsel is responsible for arranging the planning meeting and for faxing to chambers, 3 days before the CMC, a jointly signed report of that meeting.
Per Local Rule 16.3(b)(1), the court expects lead counsel and parties to attend the CMC unless they have been given leave to attend by telephone well in advance.
3. Case Management Plan
Includes deadlines for discovery and the filing of Dispositive Motions, the method for handling discovery disputes, page limitations for dispositive and other motion practice, and the date of the status hearing. Generally, standard time limitations on discovery are imposed in accordance with the track to which the case has been assigned.
4. Policy Concerning Contacts with Judges and Clerks
Judge Adams accepts no ex parte communications. Counsel may contact the courtroom deputy clerk regarding scheduling and miscellaneous matters only. Contact with law clerks is limited to procedural matters only, unless instructed by the court.
5. Motions and Briefs
Strictly follows Local Rule 7.1. Memoranda of law for dispositive motions are limited to 10 pages for expedited cases, 20 pages for standard and administrative cases, 30 pages for complex cases, and 40 pages for mass tort cases. Memoranda relating to all other motions may not exceed 15 pages. Leave to exceed these limitations must be sought well in advance of the deadline for filing a memorandum, and is rarely granted. Judge Adams believes these limitations benefit counsel as well as the court. If a motion or brief exceeds 40 pages, 2 courtesy copies should be supplied to the court.
B. Civil Pretrial Procedures
1. Motion Practice
Judge Adams rules on all motions based on the written briefs/memorandum. He rarely hears oral argument of motions. Unopposed motions are not automatically granted, but are ruled on expeditiously. Because Judge Adams rarely grants emergency motions ex parte, he generally requires a party filing an emergency motion to notify the opposing party and/or counsel of the filing and provide them with a copy of it.
Judge Adams believes that the attorneys and parties should view the litigation process as a vehicle to resolve a controversy. Accordingly, he expects counsel to earnestly engage in settlement discussions before the CMC and throughout litigation. He makes active use of the court's ADR program and, with the consent of the parties, frequently engages in mediation efforts himself. Pretrial conferences may be treated as settlement conferences, and the parties and counsel are required to attend these conferences prepared to discuss settlement. When a settlement conference is set on a case, Judge Adams requires that at least fourteen calendar days prior to the settlement conference, Plaintiff's counsel shall submit a written itemization of damages and settlement demand to Defendant's counsel, with a brief explanation of why such a demand is appropriate. No later than seven calendar days prior to the settlement conference, Defendant's counsel shall submit a written offer to Plaintiff's counsel with a brief explanation of why such offer is appropriate. If settlement is not achieved, Plaintiff's counsel shall deliver fax copies of these letters to Judge Adams chambers at least two to three days prior to the settlement conference. Plaintiff must provide a monetary breakdown of damages claimed to the court.
3. Discovery Disputes
Follows Local Rule 37.1. The order for resolving discovery disputes under this rule is: (1) a good faith resolution effort by counsel, (2) a telephone conference call with the court, triggered by a short letter from counsel, (3) position letters, if solicited by the court, and (4) a formal Fed.R.Civ.P. 37 discovery motion. The court may refer discovery matters to a Magistrate Judge at the court's discretion.
Follows the express limitations on the number of interrogatories and depositions set forth in the Local Rules, which limitations are dependent upon the track to which the case has been assigned.
4. Status Hearing/Settlement Conference
Pursuant to the Case Management Plan, counsel are required to fax to chambers at least 5 days before the status hearing/settlement conference, a status/settlement report indicating a brief overview of the facts, the status of discovery, the status of settlement discussions, and any other matters counsel feel should be addressed by the Judge at the conference. The Judge expects the parties to discuss settlement in specific terms prior to faxing the report to chambers, and to include the end result of those discussion(s) in the confidential faxed report.
5. Final Pretrial Conference/Trial Order
Judge Adams has a standard trial order form. The order sets forth requirements for a joint statement of the case, a joint statement of undisputed facts, witness lists, stipulations, exhibit lists, depositions and other discovery material to be used at trial, a single joint submission of jury instructions agreed upon by all parties, and proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
6.Continuances / Requests for Telephonic Appearance
All requests for Continuances requiring the appearance of counsel, parties or representatives (including Case Management, Status , Settlement Conferences, Pre-Trials, etc.) shall be filed in writing with the Clerk of Court no later than seven days prior to the scheduled date.
Judge Adams attempts to establish reasonable deadlines for discovery, Identification of Experts and supplying Expert reports, Dispositive Motions, etc. All requests for extensions shall be filed no later than fourteen days prior to established deadlines. Extensions will be granted only in exceptional circumstances.
C. Criminal Pretrial Procedures
1. Bail Procedures
Judge Adams determines bail and handles his own arraignments whenever possible. A Magistrate Judge determines bail for those defendants arrested on a warrant pursuant to a complaint filed by the United States Attorney's Office.
2. Discovery Procedures
Unless there is a well-founded concern for the safety of the witness, the parties are strongly encouraged to provide Jencks and reciprocal Jencks material no later than the close of proceedings the day before the witness is expected to testify.
Strongly prefers that pleas be written. Does not generally object to plea arrangements that involve sentencing recommendations, and does not generally object to binding agreements under Fed.R. Crim. P. 11(e)(1). At the arraignment, establishes a change of plea deadline approximately two weeks before trial.
4. Sentencing Practices
Sentencing recommendations of the probation officer are not divulged. Counsel must raise any objections to presentence investigative reports, guideline computations, and other such matters in writing prior to sentencing.
1. Trial Date
Provides notice of trial at the status hearing in civil cases and at the arraignment in criminal cases. Rarely grants continuances. Requests for continuances in civil cases must be made by motion signed by the parties and counsel.
Trial schedule is from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break, one midmorning 15-minute break, and one midafternoon 15-minute break. Expects counsel to be present in the courtroom at 8:30 a.m. to address matters outside the presence of the jury.
2. Trial Briefs
Requires counsel to file trial briefs in all cases and to send all other counsel a copy of all briefs. Trial briefs must include a synopsis of the facts, discussion of the controlling law, and discussion of any evidentiary issues likely to arise at trial.
3. Voir Dire
Judge Adams conducts an extensive voir dire which includes standard questions and may incorporate some of the parties' proposed questions. After he completes his questioning, he may allow counsel approximately ten minutes per party to ask supplemental questions if the parties are not numerous. Counsel may submit proposed voir dire questions to the court at least three business days prior to the final pretrial conference.
4. Jury Instructions
Provides boilerplate instructions. Requires counsel to provide only instructions regarding the applicable law and proposed interrogatories. Requires counsel to confer with one another to reach consensus on those instructions and file a single, joint submission of proposed jury instructions and proposed interogatories (on paper and computer diskette) no later than ten days before trial.
The entire panel is questioned and qualified. The peremptory challenges are then made by round. If a party passes on a peremptory challenge, it loses that challenge. If the plaintiff and defendant consecutively pass on their peremptory challenges, the challenges are concluded and the jurors in the box are seated.
5. Opening Statement
Judge Adams will discuss time limits on opening statements with counsel before trial commences. He expects counsel to keep their opening statements brief, for the benefit of counsel as well as the jury. Any exhibits that will be used in opening statement must be shown in advance to opposing counsel.
Does not require counsel to conduct examinations at the lectern. Counsel should request permission from the judge to approach a witness.
7. Jury Procedures
Permits jurors to take notes during trial. The judge accepts no communications from jurors except in a signed writing transmitted through the foreperson and given to the courtroom deputy.
After the parties have presented their cases, Judge Adams will instruct the jury regarding their considerations for deliberation. Judge Adams will provide a copy of the jury instructions, interrogatories and the verdict form to the jury immediately prior to their deliberations.
For the jury's use during deliberations, Judge Adams requires that all stipulations must be in writing signed by counsel, and by the defendant in criminal cases. Expects the parties to stipulate to as many undisputed facts as possible so as not to waste the court's or the juries' time.
9. Marking Exhibits
Requires a list of Exhibits be submitted to courtroom clerk. Requires that all trial exhibits be pre-marked and a copy provided for his use.
10. Reading of Depositions
Permits counsel to utilize third parties for reading depositions in court.
11. Use of Experts
Qualifications of expert witnesses should be confirmed either by stipulation or by direct testimony. Parties are required to notify the Judge of possible Daubert challenges well in advance of trial.
12. Use of Videotapes
Allows counsel to present videotapes in court. However, requires a complete written transcript of videotaped depositions, with any objections specified in writing well before trial.
13. Daily Transcripts
Requires the parties to arrange for daily transcripts.
14. Closing Statements
Time limitations for closing arguments will be determined by the court.