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Bench Book

Judge Robert W. Adkins

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR JUDGE’S BENCHBOOK
JUDGE: Robert W. Adkins - Third District Court

1. Scheduling Conferences

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

A: Yes. I usually conduct them by telephone.

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

A: If the parties have not included mediation or case settlement, the Court will add that requirement.

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. I prefer them delivered ten to fourteen days prior to the hearing.

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: The Clerk will schedule the hearing.

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

A: The Court follows Rule 7(e).

Q: What is your policy on allowing overlength memoranda?

A: On most cases, it is not necessary to file an over length memoranda. The Court appreciates brevity when possible.

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

A: A useful brief clearly sets out the disputed facts and the undisputed facts, and addresses both the authority that supports and is adverse to counsel’s position.

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

A: Yes.

Q: What makes an effective motions argument?

A: The Court has read the motions and memoranda in advance of the hearing. If the Court has questions for counsel, the questions should be fully addressed.

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?

A: Proper notice must be given to the adverse party.

3. Final Pretrial Conference

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

A: To make certain that counsel, parties and the Court are prepared for trial.

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

A: Any matters that need to be resolved prior to trial.

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

A: Discuss the efforts made by counsel, to settle the case and inquire if the Court can assist those efforts.

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: Court conducted.

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

A: Counsel may suggest further questions during a sidebar conference.

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

A: The final pretrial.

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

A: Allowed only in complex cases.

Requested Instructions:

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

A: The final pretrial.

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 sufficient legal authority?

A: MUJI is sufficient.

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

A: No.

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 to 5.

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

A: All motions that can be filed and heard before trial should be.

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

A: Counsel is responsible for scheduling witnesses, so that the Court and jury are not kept waiting.

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

A: They should be premarked.

5. Bench Trial Practice

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

A: Bench trials are slightly less formal. The Court may ask questions of a witness during a bench trial.

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

A: The Court appreciates proposed findings and conclusions.

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

A: Trial briefs are appreciated.

6. Thoughts on Effective Advocacy

Q: What makes an effective advocate in jury arguments?

A: Being courteous and prepared.

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

A: Misstating the evidence and being discourteous to counsel or a party.

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

A: Being courteous to all witnesses.

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

A: Somewhat useful.

7. Criminal Matters

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

A: Counsel should notify opposing counsel before contacting the Court.

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

A: If the issue is contested, the Court will set a later hearing to address bail.

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

A: Any information that corrects or supplements the presentence report. If there is no PSR, then the prior criminal history, family, employment, and educational history.

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

A: They are both useful and encouraged.

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: If it can be handled summarily, the Court will call the case before handling cases that require more time.

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?

A: Counsel should not request a TRO on matters that can be handled by a temporary order.

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

A: No.

9. Discovery Practices

Q: What is your approach to resolving discovery disputes?

A: The Court will order all reasonable and appropriate discovery requests.

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

A: The Court will impose sanctions for flagrant abuses.

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

A: No.

10. Thoughts on Courtroom Protocol

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

A: Yes. The Court reminds counsel or the party that civility is required in the courtroom.

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

A: Yes. Counsel may not approach a witness without permission.

11. Other Miscellaneous Issues

Q: What are your opinions regarding courtroom dress?

A: Counsel should be dressed appropriately. The Court understands that economic factors restrict some witnesses and litigants and the Court takes those factors into consideration regarding appropriate dress.

Q: Do you allow children in your courtroom?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you allow cell phones in your courtroom?

A: They must be turned off.

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

A: The Court tries to start on time and expects counsel to be present or notify the Clerk that they will be delayed.

12. Clerk’s Comments

Q: The name and phone number of my clerk(s) is:

A: Denise Ormond - (801) 233-9734
Pam Wilkins - (801) 233-9735

Q: My clerk wants you to please do these things:

A: 1. Be polite and courteous.
2. Be available at the time set for telephone conferences.
3. If possible, get a stipulation from opposing counsel before contacting the Court for a continuance.

 

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