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Bench Book

Judge Ben H. Hadfield

First District Court

Brigham City

1. Scheduling Conferences

Q: Are scheduling conferences needed or used in your court? Yes. If so, are they conducted in person or by telephone? Both.

A: See Above

Q: What are your preferences regarding Case Management Orders/Scheduling Orders? Do you require that specific things be included in such orders?

A: Yes, but I don't have a template, just try to make sure everything from the conference is covered.

2. Motions Practice

Q: Do you appreciate courtesy copies of briefs being delivered to your chambers prior to hearing on a motion? If so, how early do you want them?

A: Yes, but not 10 minutes before hearing. Several days to two weeks early is appreciated.

Q: Do you schedule hearings on motions automatically upon receiving notices to submit, or do you prefer or require that counsel call to schedule hearings?

A: Schedule hearings automatically.

Q: Under what circumstances do you decline to grant a request for oral argument?

A: When the memoranda seems well done and I am clear on a ruling.

Q: What is your policy on allowing overlength memoranda?

A: I allow it, but I dislike it. Occasionally, I will prohibit any further overlength memoranda.

Q: What separates a useful brief from one that is unhelpful?

A: Quality, length, writing ability. Those who write well normally can get to the point.

Q: Do you prefer that counsel provide copies of the relevant cases prior to a hearing?

A: Only if counsel believes it is dispositive.

Q: What makes an effective motions argument?

A: Eye contact, concise argument that doesn't attempt to recite the memorandum.

Q: Is there anything about the way you handle requests for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions that you think the bar should be aware of?


3. Final Pretrial Conference

Q: In your view, what is the purpose of a final pretrial conference?

A: Determine settlement prospects, clean up as many pre-trial issues as possible before the morning of trial.

Q: What topics or issues should counsel come prepared to discuss?

A: Instructions, Motions in Limine, trial flow, critical evidentiary issues anticipated.

Q: What steps do you take, if any, at a final pretrial conference to encourage settlement of the case?

A: If there is a jury I try to determine their "final" offers. Sometimes meet with parties separately if stipulated.

Q: Do you require clients to be present at final pretrial conferences?

A: Yes.

4. Jury Trial Practice

Jury Selection:

Q: How is voir dire conducted in your courtroom?

A: First by the court, then each side is allowed some time.

Q: Do you allow counsel to participate in voir dire? If so, to what extent?

A: Yes, 10-30 minutes voir dire for each side.

Q: What is your due date for requested voir dire questions?

A: None.

Q: Do you allow or encourage the use of jury questionnaires?

A: Only on complex or high profile cases.

Requested Instructions:

Q: When do you require requested instructions to be submitted?

A: Several weeks before trial. Deadline is in scheduling order.

Q: What form do you prefer requested instructions to take (e.g., do you prefer instructions accompanied by supporting cases, etc.)? No. Is a citation to MUJI sufficient legal authority? Yes.


Q: Do you have a set of stock jury instructions that you use?

A: In criminal cases.

Q: Do you prefer to receive an electronic copy of requested instructions?

A: Yes.

Trial Procedures:

Q: What is your preferred trial schedule (e.g., 9 to 5 with an hour for lunch, 8 to 2 with no lunch, etc.)?

A: 9:00-12:00, 1:30-5:00 for jury
8:30-12:00, 1:15-5:00 for counsel

Q: What are your preferences with respect to motions in limine and other trial related motions?

A: Please do not file them on the morning of trial. I prefer to argue and rule on them before the date of trial.

Q: What are your preferences and/or procedures related to witness scheduling?

A: Allow counsel to do this so long as there are not gaps.

Q: What are your preferences with respect to trial exhibits?

A: Pre-marked.

5. Bench Trial Practice

Q: What are the major differences, in your courtroom, between bench trials and jury trials?

A: Bench trials are usually a little less formal. I really like a brief Trial Memorandum from counsel in bench trials.

Q: Do you appreciate or require proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law from counsel?

A: Usually not.

Q: Do you appreciate or require trial briefs from counsel?

A: Appreciate.

6. Thoughts on Effective Advocacy

Q: What makes an effective advocate in jury arguments?

A: Eye contact, conversational tone, credibility.

Q: What are the most common mistakes made in argument?

A: Overreaching - trying to sell a preposterous idea.

Q: What are some techniques that do, or do not, work effectively in the examination of witnesses?

A: Courtesy, conciseness. I am surprised how many counsel conduct trial examination as if it were a deposition.

Q: Do you find the use of computer-assisted presentations (e.g., PowerPoint) effective and/or useful?

A: Sometimes very helpful.

7. Criminal Matters

Q: How do you handle requests for continuance on pretrials, arraignments or roll calls?

A: First continuance, routine. All others must have a specific, unanticipated reason.

Q: When may the issue of bail best be addressed in your courtroom?

A: Any time defense has a proposal.

Q: What information do you want from counsel at the time of sentencing?

A: If PSI report/recommendation is unfair, explain why. Don't just complain.

Q: Are private pre-sentence evaluations useful or encouraged?

A: No.

Q: Do you have any standard sentences the bar should be advised about, i.e., DUI sentencings, acceptance of alcohol-related reckless?

A: No.

Q: How should counsel on busy law and motion calendar handle calling a case?

A: Advise in-court Judicial Assistant when they are ready.

8. Special Issues for Domestic Cases

Q: Are there any special issues that arise in your courtroom in domestic cases of which you would like the bar to be aware?


Q: What do you want to have on temporary order issues?

A: Income proof.

Q: Do you have a policy on child interviews with respect to custody?

A: Yes. I prefer these without parties or counsel, but only do this if both sides stipulate.

9. Discovery Practices

Q: Has your district adopted any local rules with respect to resolving discovery disputes?

A: No.

Q: What is your approach to resolving discovery disputes? How do you handle status and scheduling matters for discovery issues?

A: If I am persuaded one side has been unreasonable, I award attorneys fees.

Q: What is your approach with granting extraordinary discovery?

A: Case by case.

Q: What are your thoughts on imposing sanctions for discovery abuses?

A: Necessary.

Q: Are you generally available to solve problems that arise during a deposition?

A: Usually not.

Q: What insights do you have for litigants with respect to discovery matters in general, especially in light of the November 1, 2011 amendments to the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure?

A: I am surprised how much of the Bar is still unaware of the Rule.

10. Thoughts on Courtroom Protocol

Q: Is lack of civility ever a problem in your courtroom? Yes. If so, do you take steps to improve civility in your courtroom? Yes.

A: I try to set a tone of civility and cooperation. (That is my perception, counsel may disagree.)

Q: Do you impose any limitations on courtroom movement (approaching witnesses, podium, etc.)?

A: Only if I believe counsel is intimidating or annoying the witness or jury.

11. Other Miscellaneous Issues

Q: What are your opinions regarding courtroom dress?

A: If you dress casual, it suggests the case is less important. That is not fair to the client.

Q: Do you allow children in your courtroom?

A: Sometimes, not if the case involves them directly.

Q: Do you allow cell phones in your courtroom?

A: Only for counsel.

Q: What, if anything, do you do to enforce promptness in your courtroom?

A: If there is no reasonable explanation, I will award the other side attorneys fees.

12. Other Suggestions, Thoughts, Concerns

13. Comments from Case Managers and Judicial Assistants

Q: The name and phone number of my Judicial Assistants are:

A: Leann Cole (Civil) 435-734-4605
Shawna Whitaker (Criminal) 435-734-4606

Biographies of 1st District Judges