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Bench Book

Judge Ernie Jones

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR JUDGE’S BENCHBOOK

Second District Court

1. Discovery

Q: What is your practice with respect to setting an initial case schedule? Modifying it once set?
A: Scheduling Orders should be as detailed as possible but may be modified if necessary.
Q: Has your district adopted any local rules with respect to resolving discovery disputes?
A: Yes.
Q: What is your practice regarding discovery disputes? How do you handle status and scheduling matters for discovery issues?
A: By phone most of the time. I conduct a phone conference with attorneys to resolve disputes. These conferences are generally not on the record.
Q: What is your approach to granting extraordinary discovery?
A: I only grant this in exceptional cases.
Q: What is your practice regarding sanctions for discovery abuses?
A: I very seldom use sanctions.
Q: Are you generally available to hear disputes that arise during depositions?
A: Yes.
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: Follow the rules and talk to opposing counsel to resolve issues.

2. Motions

Q: Do you prefer that counsel provide copies of the cited authorities prior to ahearing? What about unpublished cases?
A: No.
Q: Do you appreciate courtesy copies of briefs being delivered to your chambers prior to a motion hearing? If so, how far in advance do you want them?
A: Yes, 10 days in advance of the scheduled hearing.
Q: What is your policy on allowing overlength memoranda? Extensions of the briefing schedule?
A: I only allow over length briefs if I am provided a valid reason.
Q: Do you schedule motion hearings automatically upon receipt of notices to submit, or do you prefer or require that counsel call to schedule hearings?
A: No. A hearing will not be scheduled on a motion without counsel requesting oral arguments. Counsel may call to schedule hearing if they have requested a hearing.
Q: Under what circumstances do you decline to grant a request for oral argument?
A: Most unlikely. I rarely deny a request for oral argument.
Q: Do you have any recommendations or preferences regarding written advocacythat you would like counsel to be aware of?
A: Short and to the point.
Q: Do you have any particular guidelines or preferences that you expect counsel tofollow at oral argument?
A: Short, to the point and concise. Oral arguments that go on too long are a mistake.
Q: Do you have any guidelines or preferences that you expect counsel to followregarding temporary restraining orders or preliminary injunctions?
A: No.

3. Final Pretrial Conference

Q: In your view, what is the purpose of the final pretrial conference?
A: To resolve any last minute issues and to confirm trial will proceed as scheduled.
Q: What topics or issues should counsel come prepared to discuss at the final pretrial conference?
A: Any issues which are set for trial.
Q: What steps do you take, if any, at a final pretrial conference to encourages settlement of the case?
A: Nothing special. I believe the attorneys know their case and can decide if settlement is appropriate.
Q: Do you require clients to be present at final pretrial conferences?
A: Not in civil cases.
Q: Do you typically hear motions in limine and other trial-related motions at thefinal pretrial conference, or at another time?
A: These motions should be scheduled before trial when possible.
Q: Do you appreciate or require pre-trial briefs from counsel?
A: Trial briefs are helpful.

 

4. Jury Trials

Jury Selection:

Q: How is voir dire conducted in your courtroom? Do you allow counsel to participate in voir dire? If so, to what extent?
A: By court and attorneys. Yes, counsel may ask any appropriate questions of the prospective jurors.
Q: When do you require requested voir dire questions to be submitted?
A: Thirty days before trial.
Q: Do you allow or encourage the use of jury questionnaires? If so, by when must jury questionnaires be filed?
A: Yes, in some cases I think questionnaires are helpful. Questionnaires should be submitted 30 days prior to trial.

Jury Instructions:

Q: When do you require instructions to be submitted?
A: 30 days before trial.
Q: Do you have a set of standard jury instructions that you use? If so, how can counsel obtain a copy?
A: Yes. Counsel may contact my clerk.
Q: What form do you prefer requested instructions to take (e. g., do you prefer instructions accompanied by supporting cases, etc.)? Is a citation to MUJI 1st or 2nd sufficient legal authority?
A: Yes, MUJI is sufficient. Supporting cases help if they are not cited inMUJJ.
Q: Do you prefer to receive an electronic copy of requested instructions?
A: Yes.
Q: When do you prefer to hear disputes over jury instructions:
A: Prior to trial if possible. Sometimes I will hear disputes afterevidence has concluded

Trial Procedure:

Q: What is your preferred trial schedule (e.g., 9 to 5 with an hour for lunch, 8 to 2 with no lunch, etc.)? Are there any set days/times when you schedule other matters and not trial?
A: I have used both schedules. I ask attorneys if they have a preference. No trial is held on Wednesdays due to my law and motion calendar being held then.
Q: Do you prefer to hear disputes over trial exhibits before trial or during?
A: I prefer hearing disputes prior to trial.
Q: What is your practice regarding the use of trial exhibits ordemonstratives during opening statements?
A: It is fine to use if the opposing party does not object.
Q: What are your preferences with respect to trial exhibits? What are the preferences of your clerks with respect to trial exhibits?
A: Mark trial exhibits before trial starts.
Q: Do you have any guidelines or preferences regarding the use of technology at trial?
A: No, as long as neither party objects.
Q: What are your preferences and/or procedures related to witness scheduling?
A: I leave it up to attorneys.
Q: Do you allow counsel to move freely around the courtroom during trial?
A: No limitations.

5. Bench Trials

Q: Do you have any particular guidelines or preferences that counsel should be aware of regarding bench trials as opposed to jury trials?
A: Jury trials are more formal.

6. Post-trial Issues

Q: Do you appreciate or require proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law from counsel?
A: Not mandatory. Only if counsel desires. Proposed findings may be helpful. At times I 'Will request counsel to submit proposed findings.
Q: Do you appreciate or require post-trial briefs from counsel?
A: Yes.

7. Technology in the Courtroom

Q: To what extent do you allow the use of technology in your courtroom?
A: No objection.
Q: Do you find the use of any particular type of computer-assisted presentations effective and/or useful?
A: Yes.
Q: Do you find the use of any particular type of computer-assisted presentations unhelpful?
A: No.

8. Criminal Matters

Q: How do you handle requests for continuance on pretrials, arraignments or roll calls?
A: I need a good reason to grant a continuance. I request approval from both parties to continue.
Q: When may the issue of bail best be addressed in your courtroom?
A: At arraignment if possible or decision for prelim.
Q: What is your policy, if any, on pleas in abeyance?
A: I do not care for pleas in abeyance but there are cases where it is acceptable.
Q: What information do you want from counsel at the time of sentencing?
A: Prior RAP sheet.
Q: Are private pre-sentence evaluations useful or encouraged?
A: No. They are paid for by the defendant and therefore are usually too biased, and are not helpful.
Q: Do you have any standard sentences the bar should be advised about, i.e., DUI sentencings, acceptance of alcohol-related recklessness?
A: No.
Q: How should counsel on busy Jaw and motion calendar handle calling a case?
A: Remember there are many cases that need to be disposed of. You may need to wait for your case to be called.
Q: What advice do you have for prosecutors to be most effective in your courtroom?
A: Be polite to my clerk and bailiff. They are very helpful to all parties.
Q: What advice do you have for defense counsel to be most effective in your courtroom?
A: Be polite to my clerk and bailiff. They are very helpful to all parties.

9. 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?
A: No.
Q: What documents do you want filed before appearing on a motion for temporary orders?
A: As far as temporary restraining orders go, I will look for whether there is really irreparable harm.
Q: What documents do you want filed before appearing on a motion for a custody evaluator?
A: Which custody evaluator is requested and why. Who will be paying for the custody evaluation.
Q: What are the special procedures for failing a Motion for an Order to Show Cause?
A:
Q: Do you have any preferences for compelling and filing financial declarations? Any practice pointers for counsel as to how you would like these completed or filed?
A:
Q: Do you want any type of motion binder delivered? Is this helpful, or does e-filing render these obsolete?
A: Binders are helpful, even with e-filing.
Q: Do you appreciate courtesy copies of briefs being delivered to your chambers prior to a motion hearing? If so, how fur in advance do you want them, and how do you want them assembled (folder, binders, with or without exhibit tabs, etc.)
A: Yes, ten days prior to hearing is preferred.
Q: Is there a special way that you would like proposed orders to be filed?
A: No.
Q: How should discovery deadlines be handled on petitions to modify, where a schedule is not automatically issued by the court?
A:
Q: Do you have a policy on child interviews with respect to custody?
A: Child interviews in most cases are not helpful in custody cases.

10. Courtroom Protocol

Q: Is lack of civility ever a problem in your courtroom? If so, what steps do you take to address it?
A: No problem in most cases.
Q: What are your opinions regarding courtroom dress?
A: Coat and tie for men, dress or pants for women.
Q: Do you allow children in your courtroom?
A: Only if necessary.
Q: What is your courtroom practice with respect to attorney cell phones? Clients? Those in the gallery?
A: Allowed, but tum it off during trial please.
Q: What, if anything, do you do to enforce promptness in your courtroom?
A: I like an attorney to be on time, but I realize there are competing schedules.

11. Comments from Case Managers and Judicial Assistants

Q: The name and phone number of my case manager(s) is:
A:
Q: My case manager wants you to please do these things:
A:
Q: The name and phone number of my judicial assistant(s) is:
A: Venna Woodring, (801) 395-1176
Trina Winkler, (801) 395-1174
Q: My judicial assistant wants you to please do these things:

EXHIBITS FOR TRIAL/HEARINGS:
If there will be a particularly large number of exhibits at trial PLEASE submit exhibits a day or so ahead of trial preferably in a binder with a cover page designating number and title of each exhibit. Please number the binder tabs. For example, Petitioner's/Plaintiff's Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, etc., and also for same for Respondent/Defendant. (1, 2, 3, etc.) l've had cases where exhibits were marked alphabetically but once we reach 26 (A-Z) it's confusing (AA? A--I ?). Thank you in advance!!
CONTACT INFO: Please feel free to contact me (Venna) at any time at 801-395-1176. If you are unable to reach me by phone, you are welcome to email me at vennaw@utcourts.gov.
E-FILED ORDERS: Now that all case types are filed electronically, please note that if an order is declined for any reason, a watermark indicating 'declined' is on that order and it cannot be signed at a later date. Therefore, once the issue has been corrected, a new order will need to be submitted

12. Other items

Q: Do you have a judicial biography that you would like hyperlinked to your bench book? If so, please advise us of the link to this information or provide us with a copy of the same so we may link it to your bench book.
A: No
Q: Do you have any stock jury instructions, verdict forms, or other information you would like hyperlinked to your bench book? If so please advise us to the link to this information or provide us with copies of the same so we may link it to your bench book.
A: No

Biographies of 2nd District Judges