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Bench Book

Judge Glenn Iwasaki

Third District
Regular Motion Practice

When a request for decision pursuant to Rule 4-501 is filed, and regardless if there is a request for an oral argument, I will look at the file and decide whether or not oral argument will be granted. Generally, on dispositive motions, I will grant oral argument. There are occasions in which dispositive motions are unopposed and I may rule on the Memoranda submitted or a brief on the record proffer for the basis of the Motion would be scheduled. On non-dispositive Motions, if it is something that will aid the Court in its determination, I will schedule oral argument. My clerk will set a date in the future for oral argument, subject to conflicts and calendars and rescheduling requests by the attorneys, with a notification that courtesy copies are due somewhere between two weeks and ten days prior to the argument.

The courtesy copies are extremely helpful in that it allows me to make notes, comments and/or notations on the copies. Depending on the type of oral argument and the issues that are presented, I may become involved by asking specific questions to clarify issues that I have in mind and/or to allow the attorneys the time and opportunity to develop their arguments. All counsel should realize that the Court has read all of the submitted Memoranda and case law, both in support and opposition to the issues presented, and it is not necessary for them to recite verbatim their Memoranda.

Generally, oral argument is set for 30 minutes, however, if I determine that there may be a need for more time or there is a request for additional time, the Court will obviously consider it. Once again, with the time limit, do not waste your time in reading matters that are contained in Memoranda the Court has already read.

Following oral argument, there are some cases when the Court feels comfortable ruling from the bench and I will render a bench opinion, to be followed by an Order prepared by the prevailing party; however, there are cases in which the issues are so complex and the arguments are so involved that there must be some further consideration, and the Court will then issue a written Memorandum Decision as soon as possible, within the time constraints set by the rules.

Case Management Orders

The new civil discovery rules include Case Management Orders, scheduling conferences and cases which are subject to or exempt from the requirement. The practice has been to present the Court with a stipulated Case Management Order, which I will review and approve, if appropriate. It has been my experience that mediation has not been included in those Orders and, being an advocate of ADR, I will set up a telephonic conference with counsel to address the issues of mediation. In the event that both or all counsel agree that mediation would be beneficial to the case, I will examine the stipulated Order, discuss with counsel an appropriate time for mediation to be completed, and to include that either by formal amendment, or by written Minute Entry, into the Case Management Order. Mediation will then be concluded by that time.

In the event it is agreed upon by all parties after considerable discovery and discussion that mediation would not benefit any of the parties, then a Motion to the Court to alleviate the parties of that requirement is necessary. If mediation is attempted and has been unsuccessful, the attorneys are directed to inform the Court of their unsuccessful mediation, and I will set up further conferences regarding the setting of a trial and a pretrial date.

Pretrial Conferences

At the pretrial conference, depending upon the type of case, the Court may take an active part in the discussion. For example, in domestic cases, at the scheduling conference the Court will inquire of counsel whether or not the parties and counsel invite the Court to take an active part in pretrial settlement discussions. If that is the case, I will order an extended pretrial settlement conference, and have counsel prepare informal position papers as to what the clients want and why. These position papers are submitted to the Court well in advance of the pretrial settlement conference so that I will have an opportunity to prepare for the settlement conference.

At the conference, the Court will hear from counsel, address those issues raised in both argument and the position papers, and will give direction to counsel, depending on what evidence would show. Upon that discussion, the parties would then speak with their clients to see whether or not there is an opportunity for settlement. If there is, the Court would then either put the settlement on the record, or allow counsel further opportunity to draft formal pleadings. In the event that the pretrial settlement conference is unsuccessful, the matter will be set for a trial without any prejudice to either party as to positions taken or to issues raised.

If I am pretrying a bench trial, I will instruct the attorneys to prepare for me proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, as well as brief any legal issues in which they deem it necessary to educate the Court. Both sides, without exchange of these documents, will submit them to the Court independent of each other.

In the event that the pretrial concerns a jury trial, the Court will have already established the number of days the trial will take, the schedule for those days, as well as the submission of jury instructions and voir dire. The Court expects that stipulated jury instructions, as much as possible, be submitted to the Court, including stocks, and the Court will give both sides an opportunity to argue any contested jury instructions.

There are times when the Court will conduct telephonic pretrial conferences and hearings for the purpose of saving counsel the trip to the courthouse; however, there have been some difficulties in contacting counsel at the time and telephone number that has been scheduled. In the event that there are any problems with you being at your designated telephone number at the appropriate time, make sure that arrangements have been made with my clerk to call you at another location or on your cell phone.

Bench Trial Practice

For bench trials, the Court expects that proposed Findings and Conclusions, as well as any trial briefs would have been submitted to the Court, as well as courtesy copies of all exhibits from both sides. With a bench trial, the Court may interject some questions and/or clarifications during the course of the trial, but will mainly allow counsel the opportunity to fully develop and present their own case.

Jury Trial Practice

To begin with, my schedule for a trial that will be less than two weeks in length, will begin at 9:00 a.m. and run until noon, with one 15 minute break in the morning. We will resume at 1:15 or 1:30 p.m., and go until 4:30 p.m., with two 10 minute breaks in the afternoon.

In cases in excess of two weeks, the trial schedule will begin at 8:30 a.m. and go until 2:30 p.m. Short, periodic breaks will be taken in the morning, with a half-hour break around noon for some light nourishment that would be supplied by the Court. Trial would then adjourn at 2:30 p.m. for the day. It has been my experience that this allows both the Court, counsel and jury to do other matters relating to their “real” lives. Trials are four days a week, Tuesday through Friday.

In jury selection and voir dire, the Court has ordered and counsel has previously submitted voir dire questions. The Court will conduct its own voir dire, asking those standard stock questions that the Court asks, as well as appropriate voir dire questions submitted by counsel. In the event that follow-up is necessary or requested, counsel will make Motions to the Court for additional opportunity for voir dire or follow-up.

On occasion, the Court has utilized questionnaires and feels that it is an important aid to the process; however, the Court will not draft the questionnaire and will leave it up to counsel to include all that they can agree upon that is relevant and necessary for a questionnaire. In the event that there is some conflict as to what should be contained or not contained in the questionnaire, the Court will not rule one way or the other, but merely if there is a conflict, it will not be included in a questionnaire. Even if all questions are stipulated to by counsel, the Court ultimately will decide whether or not those questions will be asked.

Effective Advocacy and Courtroom Behavior

All counsel are expected to be professional, courteous, well-prepared and honest. Any personal attacks in argument will not be condoned by the Court and it is not helpful to counsel, the Court or the parties.

Please do not interrupt the Court, opposing counsel, or witnesses, and be brief and concise in any points to be made to the Court without arguing with the Court.

Finally, particularly in my case, please spell my name correctly and be prepared to pronounce it correctly. While it may be a small item, it is indicative to the Court as to the care that you take in your pleadings to make sure that the assigned judge is correctly identified both in spelling and pronunciation.

Clerks’ Comments

LuAnn Hanks, telephone number 238-7506, and Janet Banks, 238-7505, are my two clerks, Janet in-court, and LuAnn front office. Both are cross-trained in their jobs and are excellent in covering for each other in the event that becomes necessary.

When you call my clerks, please be prepared with the case number so that they can refer to a docket to aid in the question. Both of my clerks empty their voice mail daily and are extremely conscientious in returning phone calls. In the event that you must leave a message, please leave your name, phone number, once again the case number, and specific inquiry. In the event that the caller is an attorney and may not be available, please leave the name and number of your secretary or paralegal so that the telephone call may be returned in a timely manner.

In the event that you wish to pre-mark any exhibits, please contact my clerks to discuss with them the procedure that we use, as well as a time for you to coordinate the marking of exhibits with my clerks.

For those occasions in which ex parte applications are sought, please attempt to contact my clerks personally or through telephonic messages to determine when the Court would be available to consider ex parte applications. My clerks will attempt to advise you as to the Court’s availability, either during breaks during trial, or otherwise, and will set out a time with the Court and counsel to consider ex parte applications.

In essence, I have two excellent clerks who are extremely cooperative and knowledgeable, and any questions that you may have will be professionally handled by them.

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Biographies of 3rd District Judges