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Bench Book

Judge Lyle Anderson

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR JUDGE’S BENCHBOOK
JUDGE: Lyle Anderson - Seventh District Court

1. Discovery

Q:What is your practice with respect to setting an initial case schedule? Modifying it once set?

A:I do not like continuances. When I set a trial date, I expect to use it unless the case settles. I do double and triple set cases, but I rarely schedule other professional or personal commitments when I have a trial set. I usually hold a scheduling conference to set trial dates. I often approve participation in these conferences by phone, but will sometimes require personal appearance if it appears that getting everyone together in person will assist in resolving the ccase.

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

A:We have no local rule. I plan to follow 4-502 until a civil procedure rule is adopted on the subject. 

Q:What is your practice regarding discovery disputes? How do you handle status and scheduling matters for discovery issues? 

A:File a Statement of Discovery Dispute and a proposed order. If needed, I will hold a conference.

Q:What is your approach to granting extraordinary discovery?

A:I expect to grant most requests that follow the rule.

Q:What is your practice regarding sanctions for discovery abuses?

A:The preferred sanction is the natural consequence of inability to use the evidence. Where that is insufficient, I may compel discovery, strike pleadings and enter default.

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:I believe in judicial involvement to ensure that discovery is proportional.

2. Motions

Q:Do you prefer that counsel provide copies of the cited authorities prior to a hearing? What about unpublished cases?

A:I prefer to receive copies of the two or three best cases before the hearing. This includes unpublished decisions.

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:With efiling, you can now expect that I will obtain these from the electronic file.

Q:What is your policy on allowing overlength memoranda? Extensions of the briefing schedule?

A:I have never denied a request for leave to file an overlength memorandum.

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:I schedule oral argument when I receive the notice to submit. If requested, I could schedule it earlier.

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

A:If the correct decision is obvious and oral argument is not absolutely required, I deny it. If the rule requires argument, I schedule it even if it will not help.

Q:Do you have any recommendations or preferences regarding written advocacy that you would like counsel to be aware of?

A:A useful brief is concise and focuses on the issues. Personal comments about opposing counsel, even if deserved, are not helpful.

Q:Do you have any particular guidelines or preferences that you expect counsel to follow at oral argument?

A:If I tell you I read the memoranda, give me your best argument and sit down unless I ask questions. 

Q:Do you have any guidelines or preferences that you expect counsel to follow regarding temporary restraining orders or preliminary injunctions?

A:It surprises me how many lawyers obviously have not read the governing rules. I will read them and hold you to them. Please include a place on the order for me to add the required information about the date and time of issuance and the expiration.

3. Final Pretrial Conference

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

A:The purpose is to encourage settlement, narrow the issues, resolve disputes over jury instructions and resolve evidentiary questions where possible.

Q:What topics or issues should counsel come prepared to discuss at the final pretrial conference?

A:I like to have preliminary instructions and the core trial instructions resolved before trial if possible.

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

A:I plan to be more active in pushing for settlement, even at this late stage.

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

A:Yes.

Q:Do you typically hear motions in limine and other trial-related motions at the final pretrial conference, or at another time?

A:Motions in limine that can be resolved before trial should be resolved at the final pretrial, if not earlier.

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

A:Trial briefs are helpful in about 20% of the cases. I do not require them.

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:I do it. When I have finished, I invite lawyers to ask questions if they behave themselves.

Q: When do you require requested voir dire questions to be submitted? 

A:Unless we use a questionnaire, you will be allowed to ask your own questions, provided you behave yourself.

Q:Do you allow or encourage the use of jury questionnaires? If so, by when must jury questionnaires be filed?

A:I have used questionnaires in high profile cases that involve people well-known in the area. We will need to discuss the logistics of this well before trial.

Jury Instructions:

Q:When do you require instructions to be submitted? 

A:In criminal cases, the morning of trial is soon enough. I prefer them a week before trial in civil cases.

Q:Do you have a set of standard jury instructions that you use? If so, how can counsel obtain a copy?

A:Yes, in criminal cases. I use the set developed by David Mower. You can get these from my clerks in advance of trial. In civil cases, I rely on counsel for all the jury instructions. It is my fondest wish that opposing counsel would make a genuine effort to merge their requested instructions into a coherent, non-repetitive, whole. Too often, counsel tell me they have agreed to a set of instructions that comes very near to saying everything twice.

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:I just want the file copy and my work copy. I don’t care about citations as long as you are prepared to discuss the authority supporting your request.

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

A:I think that would help my clerks.

Q:When do you prefer to hear disputes over jury instructions?

A:In criminal cases, at trial is fine. In civil cases, before trial where possible.

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 usually go 9-12 and 1:30-5:00, but have gone 8-2 after the first day of long trials. If you ask me to do that, make sure you use your time well.

Q:Do you prefer to hear disputes over trial exhibits before trial or during?

A:Before.

Q:What is your practice regarding the use of trial exhibits or demonstratives during opening statements?

A:If you use them, make sure you stick to the purpose of opening statements. If I perceive that you are arguing the case with exhibits, I will shut that down quickly.

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

A:All exhibits should be numbered sequentially from 1 to infinity.

Q:Do you have any guidelines or preferences regarding the use of technology at trial?

A:I love it, but make sure it works. Ask for permission to try everything out in advance.

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

A:This is the province of lawyers. I am very flexible about taking witnesses out of order.

Q:Do you allow counsel to move freely around the courtroom during trial?

A:I always grant requests to approach, but I do not permit lawyers to wander around the courtroom, particularly during closing arguments.

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:When I don’t have a jury, I am more active in questioning witnesses, and in closing off lines of questioning that, through technically relevant, will not affect my decision.

6. Post-trial Issues
Q:Do you appreciate or require proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law from counsel?

A:I do not require proposed findings and conclusions before trial. It would not be helpful in most cases.

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

A:Not usually. I’ll ask for them when I need them. Most of the time, the value of the briefing is outweighed by the degradation of my memory of the evidence.

7. Technology in the Courtroom
Q:To what extent do you allow the use of technology in your courtroom?

A:I allow this liberally

Q:Do you find the use of any particular type of computer-assisted presentations effective and/or useful?

A:I have seen them be very helpful in educating jurors about the science behind a claim.

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 rarely have criminal pretrials. You can easily get a continuance on misdemeanor arraignments or first felony appearances. After that, I am pretty strict.

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

A:I sometimes address it before counsel is appointed, but will always give another chance after counsel appears. I will address it at any stage, but don’t keep making the same pitch.

Q:What is your policy, if any, on pleas in abeyance?

A:I approve them in appropriate cases.

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

A:I want to know what facts in the PSI are wrong, and where counsel disagrees with the recommendation. If there is no PSI, I want to know about history, the facts of the case, and whether your client accepts responsibility.

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

A:Not encouraged, but occasionally useful.

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 law and motion calendar handle calling a case?

A:I let lawyers with one or two cases ask that their cases be called early on a 40 case calendar.

Q:What advice do you have for prosecutors to be most effective in your courtroom?

A:Know your case. Make plea offers early. I don’t approve plea bargains after the jury is summoned. You may want to set a deadline earlier than that. Use the time between your deadline and mine to prepare. That way, if you discover holes in your case, you can modify your offer without running up against my deadline.

When questioning defense witnesses, accept the reality that most witnesses are not going to break down and confess to lying on the stand.

Q:What advice do you have for defense counsel to be most effective in your courtroom? 

A:Keep a checklist of the elements the prosecution must cover. If it misses one, point it out. If you have a good defense, focus on that. If not, stay alert for prosecutorial mistakes.

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:I firmly believe that children are entitled to contact with two parents, if the parents can be responsible. I have become much more willing to meet with children who want to talk to me.

Q:What documents do you want filed before appearing on a motion for temporary orders?

A:I require a motion for temporary relief (or orders). Tell me in writing what you want and why.

Q:What documents do you want filed before appearing on a motion for a custody evaluator?

A:Petition and answer.

Q:What are the special procedures for filing a Motion for an Order to Show Cause?

A:None.

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:No.

Q:Do you want any type of motion binder delivered? Is this helpful, or does e-filing render these obsolete?

A:I think efiling has pretty much made these obsolete. However, if there is a document to which everyone will be referring, a copy for me would be helpful. For example, in a contract dispute, a copy of the contract.

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, and how do you want them assembled (folder, binders, with or without exhibit tabs, etc.)

A:This is no longer necessary.

Q:Is there a special way that you would like proposed orders to be filed?

A:Please don’t include “Proposed” in the caption. I know it’s proposed until I sign it, but I tire of editing to remove that word.

Q:How should discovery deadlines be handled on petitions to modify, where a schedule is not automatically issued by the court?

A:I don’t know. Agree to one, or ask me to set one.

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

A:I will interview a child without parents or counsel present if either parent requests.

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:Lack of civility is a problem. Lack of civility hurts your credibility with the court.

Q:What are your opinions regarding courtroom dress?

A:Suit and tie for men. Similar formality for women. I expect less of clients, witnesses and spectators.

Q:Do you allow children in your courtroom?

A:Yes, if they are quiet. And, if I don’t think their presence will hurt them. I don’t think children should be in court to watch their parents fight.

Q:What is your courtroom practice with respect to attorney cell phones? Clients? Those in the gallery?

A:Yes, if they are quiet.

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

A:I require people who are late to explain why. Those not present risk losing their cases. If you are late, your case goes to the bottom of the pile.

11. Comments from Case Managers and Judicial Assistants

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

A:Pamela Bridwell

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

A:Moab (435) 259-1349 Monticello (435) 587-2122

Q:My judicial assistant wants you to please do these things:

A:1. Do not fax pleadings unless they are time sensitive. 2. If the court sets a pre-trial conference and the attorney would like that to be held telephonically, they should file a motion with that request.

Biographies of 7th District Judges