Requirements and Information
September 14, 2022
All attorneys must follow the Local Rules and adhere to the Twelfth Circuit Standards of Professionalism, adopted by the Circuit on October 20, 2010, in Administrative Order 2010-22.2.
Case Management hearings are held on Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. (check monthly calendars for judicial conference/vacation schedule). Attorneys and defendants are expected to be present at that time. The presence of defendants at Case Management is mandatory unless excused by the Court.
The State and defense shall comply with Circuit Criminal Administrative Order 2009-1 which outlines the procedures for Case Management hearings. The Court considers CMCs to be significant, meaningful proceedings. The Court expects the State to have provided the Defense with a Discovery Response and plea offer with sufficient time for review prior to the CMC so that Defense counsel may review the Discovery, confer with the client and convey the plea offer.
If the parties stipulate to a trial date they must use the approved Stipulation for Trial Date, also located in the courtroom. The form must be completely filled out and contain the defendant’s signature. If the parties cannot agree on a trial date, the Court will select one.
Once a trial date is stipulated to and/or set by the Court, absent an unforeseen emergency, the Court will rarely grant a continuance.
Stipulations for trial may be filled out and submitted to the court in advance of Case Management, however they must be received by the Court three days prior to the Case Management to allow time for the court’s review. It is the obligation of the attorneys to confirm, either by checking the electronic court file or by contacting the Judicial Assistant, that the stipulation has been approved and an order entered. If the stipulation has been approved prior to Case Management, neither the attorneys nor the defendant need to appear.
At the Case Management hearing defendants may enter pleas and are encouraged to do so.
The Court expects attorneys to comply with all deadlines contained on the Trial Stipulation and Order.
The Court will consider setting cases that are likely to involve complicated legal or case management issues and that may require extensive judicial management to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, or promote judicial efficiency for Major Trial Case Management hearings. Attorneys are encouraged to suggest cases for consideration. The Court will set these conferences in cases it deems appropriate. In these cases the Court will enter an order designating a case as a major case and require attendance at a Major Trial Case Management hearing. Attorneys are expected to bring their professional and personal calendars to case management so that depositions and motions can be scheduled.
Docket Sounding is held two weeks before the trial period. DEFENDANTS’ IN PERSON APPEARANCE AT DOCKET SOUNDING IS MANDATORY unless excused by the court.
No motions of any kind (oral or written), including motions to continue, will be heard at docket sounding. The purpose of docket sounding is to enter a plea or announce ready for trial. If the case is ready for trial the attorneys shall be prepared to advise the Court as to how many days the trial will last (including jury selection), whether speedy trial is an issue, and any potential calendar conflicts. Counsel must comply with trial deadlines and have motions heard prior to docket sounding. Contact the JA if hearing time is unavailable on JACS.
Counsel are encouraged to discuss and to agree on pleas that may be entered by a defendant. However, ultimate responsibility for sentence determination rests with the trial judge. Negotiated pleas are subject to the court’s approval.
Plea Cut-off Date: The negotiated plea cut-off date for all cases set on a trial docket is the Friday of the docket sounding week unless otherwise stated. Thereafter all pleas will be open pleas and require a sentencing hearing and pre- sentence investigation report (if requested and if applicable) unless the charge(s) are amended in some significant manner, or the court has extended the negotiated plea cut- off date due to particular circumstances.
All score sheets must be completed in full (or to the extent possible on an open plea) so that, at most, only the judge’s signature will be required.
Pleas to and/or Requests for Community Control: In all cases in which the defendant has negotiated a Community Control sentence or will be seeking Community Control as a sanction from the Court at sentencing, the defendant and his/her attorney shall read, review, and sign the Community Control Disclosure Form (available on the circuit’s website) and file it with the Clerk along with the Acknowledgment and Waiver of Rights form.
In most cases trial scheduling for all cases on the trial docket will take place on the Friday of docket sounding week at the time designated by the judge. Defendants may, but are not required to attend trial scheduling.
The purpose of trial scheduling is to set the trial order. Attorneys are encouraged (but not required) to attend. The court will consider special scheduling requests.
Motions will not be heard at trial scheduling.
The final trial docket will be distributed and posted on the website as soon as practicable following trial scheduling.
Trial periods are set for two (2) weeks. Although a trial order will be established, counsel with trials set for a trial period shall be prepared to go to trial the first day of the first week of the period and remain available for the entire two-week trial term.
The jury trial period is a two-week trial period. Two judges are generally available for trial during the term. Due to Covid-19 backlog, a senior judge may also be available.
At 8:30 a.m. on the first day of the trial period all cases remaining on the trial docket will be called up for trial in Courtroom 8A.
So as not to keep jurors waiting, pleas will not be taken Monday morning unless the case is called up for trial. Exceptions may be made under certain circumstances, such as the jury panel not being ready.
Unless a case is given a specific date and time certain for commencement of trial, all cases must be ready for trial on the first day of the trial period.
Counsel shall confer and proposed jury instructions shall be submitted to the Court via email by Noon on the first day of trial.
Exhibits: In document intensive cases the Court requires the parties to confer with the Clerk of Court prior to trial and present the Clerk with an exhibit list as well as the exhibits. Additionally, the Court requires the parties to provide courtesy paper copies of the exhibit list and marked exhibits to opposing counsel, as well as the Court.
If either side is going to use an exhibit that is in a different form/format than has been prepared and submitted with discovery, the Court requires an exact copy of the exhibit to be delivered to opposing counsel no less than five (5) business days before trial. Additionally, counsel shall disclose to opposing counsel where in the discovery the information contained in the newly formatted exhibit can be found.
Pre-marked exhibits: State to use numbers; Defense to use letters.
Redaction of Exhibits: If any party requests that any portion of an exhibit, i.e., recordings, cell phone records, text messages, email messages, transcripts, etc., be redacted, the request for redaction shall be made to opposing counsel no less than five (5) business days before trial. If the parties cannot stipulate to the redaction, a motion must be filed and scheduled for hearing prior to trial.
Video bond hearings are scheduled on Tuesdays at 8:30 and 9 a.m., except on trial weeks when they will be scheduled at 8 a.m. Bond hearings are intended to be scheduled for 5 minutes or less.
Bond hearings requiring more than 10 minutes of hearing time shall be scheduled by Defense counsel on JACS following the scheuling requirements in the General Information section.
The VOP conference date is generally held on a Monday at 9:30 a.m. Pleas will be taken on this day, but VOP pleas can also be scheduled prior to the VOP date using JACS. VOP hearings will be held in the afternoon beginning at 1:30 pm. Subpoenas should be issued accordingly.
Early Termination: The Court will presume that early termination is possible in the express absence of no early termination being an expressly negotiated term agreed to by the parties at the time of the plea and sentencing.
Conferences: On days when VOPs are heard, the Court will take pleas and other non- evidentiary VOP motions in the morning.
Motions to Modify or Terminate Community Control or Probation: Contested motions to modify or terminate probation (filed by defense counsel) will be heard at 1:30 p.m. on VOP days unless otherwise scheduled on the assigned assistant attorney day. Refer to the General Information section of these requirements for the judicial procedure for submission of motions to terminate or modify community control or probation.