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Bench Book

Judge Royal I. Hansen

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR JUDGE’S BENCHBOOK
JUDGE: Royal I. Hansen - 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: The court sets scheduling conferences when requested. When a Rule 26 scheduling order is received, the court will set a telephone conference to build in a mediation schedule and underscore the Standards of Professionalism.

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

A: The parties should address the requirements of Rule 26 and confirm their familiarity with the Standards of Professionalism and Civility and willingness to abide by them.

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: For complex motions, the moving party submits a binder of courtesy copies for the pleadings of all parties fourteen (14) days prior to the hearing. At the same time, parties are invited to submit highlighted courtesy copies of key cases and authorities which are important for the court’s consideration. All copies and binders should be marked with the name of the assigned judge and the date and time of 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 court reviews all requests to submit to determine if oral argument would be helpful. If so, the court will set a hearing. If there is no court response to a notice to submit or if you have a scheduling conflict, the parties may jointly contact the clerk to schedule the matter.

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

A: Non-dispositive motions where the issues are clear.

Q: What is your policy on allowing overlength memoranda?

A: Overlength memoranda are not favored and each request is considered on an individual basis.

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

A: Briefs are helpful that tell the court exactly what you are seeking and why the relief should be granted. They should narrow the focus to include your best issues. Utah law is controlling and an exhaustive search and report of the applicable statutory and case law are encouraged. String citations are not favored. Lawyers should avoid hostile, demeaning, or humiliating words when communicating with the court. A table of contents is helpful for overlength memoranda.

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

A: Yes. Fourteen (14) days prior to the hearing, each party is invited to submit highlighted copies of key case law.

Q: What makes an effective motions argument?

A: Tell the court exactly what you are seeking and why the relief should be granted. Narrow your focus to include your best issues. Put yourself in the position of your opponent or the judge to anticipate arguments which require rebuttal or response. Come prepared to answer the questions that are most troublesome. Don’t substitute increased decibels for oral argument that lacks merit. Refrain from interrupting. Address the court, not your opponent.

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: The court is reluctant to grant ex-parte TRO’s. Compliance with Rule 65A is required. The court prefers that the moving party contact opposing counsel and jointly approach the court to review and schedule a hearing. Direct examination and answers for each witness should be submitted to the court and opposing counsel in advance of the hearing.

3. Final Pretrial Conference

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

A: Outline and narrow the substantive, evidentiary and witness issues, make determinations regarding procedural matters and review settlement.

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

A: Exhibits, witnesses, evidence, settlement and scheduling.

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

A: Confirm that the parties have engaged in good faith mediation as provided in their Rule 26 scheduling order. Review strengths and weaknesses of the case.

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: By the judge.

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

A: Each party is invited to submit written proposed voir dire in advance of trial.

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

A: Fourteen (14) days in advance of civil trials and seven (7) days in advance of criminal trials.

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

A: Not encouraged but allowed under exceptional circumstances. The exceptional circumstances must be raised at least 30 days before trial to allow adequate time for a questionnaire to be drafted and agreed upon by the parties.

Requested Instructions:

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

A: Stipulated jury instructions fourteen (14) days in advance of civil trials and seven (7) days in advance of criminal trials. If stipulated instructions are not received timely, the setting is stricken. Rulings for the few instructions for which there is no stipulation will be resolved by the court and counsel prior to the first day of trial.

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: Two copies. One with citations including cases and/or model instruction references and a second clean copy. The clean copy to be submitted electronically in Wordperfect X3 as per the schedule set forth above.

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

A: Yes.

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., nine to five with an hour for lunch, 8 to 2 with no lunch, etc.)?

A: 8:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. with an hour and 15 minutes for lunch. This is subject to modification depending on the needs of counsel, parties and witnesses.

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

A: Filed at least fourteen (14) days before trial with a response due at least five (5) days before trial, unless otherwise scheduled in the pre-trial order.

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

A: Parties to exchange lists with the order in which they intend to call witnesses and a summary of the testimony of each witness, at least five (5) days before trial.

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

A: Exhibits to be exchanged and pre-marked with exhibit labels from the court at least fourteen (14) days before trial. Objections as to authenticity or foundation to be filed at least five (5) days before trial. Failure to file a timely objection constitutes a waiver. Courtesy copies of exhibits to be provided to the court.

5. Bench Trial Practice

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

A: Nothing out of the ordinary.

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

A: Yes, at least five (5) days prior to trial together with a courtesy copy for the court and an electronic copy saved in Wordperfect X3.

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

A: Yes, at least five (5) days prior to trial together with a courtesy copy for the court.

6. Thoughts on Effective Advocacy

Q: What makes an effective advocate in jury arguments?

A: Without the use of notes, the presentation of a short, clean, unified theme and story that fits the elements and facts of the case.

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

A: Failure to focus on the cause of action or elements of the crime as set forth in the jury instructions or trial brief. A matter isn’t relevant just because the parties disagree.

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

A: Avoid hostile, demeaning or humiliating questioning. Ask clear, concise and non-repetitive questions. Focused and theme-based cross-examination. Refrain from inappropriate or unnecessary objections.

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

A: Yes. Please advise the court at least seven (7) days before trial so arrangements can be made to test the technology in the court room before the presentation. Arrange for a back up if it does not work.

7. Criminal Matters

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

A: Usually granted unless there is an objection from opposing counsel. Non-stipulated matters are set for hearing.

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

A: The roll call or prelim calendar.

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

A: Relevant information not contained in the pre-sentence report, including criminal history, propensity for violence, danger to the community, substance abuse, victim comments, employment, restitution payments, child support obligations, education, treatment, probation history and jail time served on this case.

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: Mandatory minimums will be imposed including jail time, particularly if there are aggravating factors including a high BAC (.16% or greater), minor children or an accident that may include injuries.

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

A: Cases may be called by either party as soon as 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?

A: No.

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

A: An order and certification that the matters have been heard and decided by the commissioner. Objections citing authority which demonstrate the law was not applied properly to the facts.

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

A: Yes. The court generally conducts interviews.

9. Discovery Practices

Q: What is your approach to resolving discovery disputes?

A: Case by case approach based upon compliance with the Rules of Civil Procedure and paragraphs 17-19 of the Utah Standards of Professionalism and Civility.

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

A: Sanctions will be imposed for discovery abuses.

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

A: Yes.

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: The court expects compliance with the Utah Standards of Professionalism and Civility.

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

A: Stay at or near the podium during witness examinations. Request permission to approach the witness or enter the well of the court room. No closer that five (5) feet to the jury box during opening and closing arguments. Maintain close proximity to a microphone to insure that a record is recorded.

11. Other Miscellaneous Issues

Q: What are your opinions regarding courtroom dress?

A: The district rules and standards are expected. Shorts, tank tops, gum and hats are not allowed.

Q: Do you allow children in your courtroom?

A: Yes, if quiet.

Q: Do you allow cell phones in your courtroom?

A: Only if they are turned off. No calls are to be initiated or accepted.

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

A: Promptness and punctually are expected. Court commences when noticed. Cases may be dismissed, judgment granted or sanctions imposed, if tardy.

12. Other Suggestions, Thoughts, Concerns

A: Your reputation as an attorney is your most important asset. Be absolutely honest and candid regarding factual and legal representations. Take seriously your responsibility as an officer of the court.

13. Clerk’s Comments

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

A: Lead Clerk: Vickie Conner, 233-9730, email: VICKIELC@email.utcourts.gov
Front Office Clerk: Melody Sivertson, 233-9731, email: melodys@email.utcourts.gov

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

A: All inquiries should include the case number and instructions for call back. Email messages are preferred. At times, it is not feasible to return all emails or calls on the date they are received. Please treat my clerks with courtesy and respect. Compliment them when they are helpful. Any statement made to my clerks should be appropriate for courtroom consumption.

 

Biographies of 3rd District Judges