First pretrials are scheduled Monday, Tuesday and Friday at either 8:30 or 8:45 a.m. The initial pretrial serves as the first opportunity for litigants to meet with the Court and to discuss theories of the case and scheduling. Counsel for parties and all unrepresented parties must appear. Appearing counsel and parties must have calendars available at the pretrial conference. As long as counsel is present, parties do not need to appear for the first pretrial conference. Case Management Orders are typically issued after the first pretrial.
Any requests for continuances and/or to appear by telephone must be made via written motion. Courtesy copies of all motions MUST be delivered to the Court by mail, hand-delivery and/or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. All e-mails to the Court shall list the case name, case number, and the name of the motion or other filing in the subject line of the e-mail. By e-mailing courtesy copies of filings to the Court, counsel certifies that an identical document is being filed contemporaneously with the Clerk’s office.
Judge O’Brien does not require Pretrial Statements.
Magistrate Dawn Humphrys primarily handles Judge O’Brien’s foreclosure pretrials, status conferences and mediations. Written notification of any loan modification or forbearance agreements, in addition to any written requests to continue a foreclosure pretrial, status conference or mediation, shall be directed to the attention of Magistrate Humphrys.
Case Management Orders
A sample Case Management Order may be found here.
Please refer to your specific case management order for deadlines and instructions regarding discovery, expert witnesses and reports, motions, and jury instructions.
Courtesy Copies of All Filings
Due to the number of filings, the Clerk’s docket typically runs two to three weeks behind. Absent a courtesy copy, the Court has no way of knowing that a motion or brief has been filed. In order to insure timely rulings, courtesy copies are required. Courtesy copies must be delivered to the Court by mail, hand-delivery and/or e-mail to email@example.com. As previously stated, all e-mails to the Court shall list the case name, case number, and the name of the motion or other filing in the subject line of the e-mail. By e-mailing courtesy copies of filings to the Court, counsel certifies that an identical document is being filed contemporaneously with the Clerk’s office.
With the exception of the first pretrial conference, all dates are set with counsels’ input. Accordingly, continuances are not liberally granted. If an emergency arises or counsel is faced with an unavoidable conflict, a motion for continuance must be made in writing. Please see “Courtesy Copies of All Filings”, listed above.
If a continuance is granted, it is the responsibility of the moving party to secure a new date that is mutually acceptable to the Court and opposing counsel. Dates that are acceptable to the Court may be obtained from Judicial Assistant Michelle Dimeff at 330-643-8748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For cases requiring the use of expert witnesses, the Court’s Case Management Order will set forth expert disclosure deadlines. In addition to identifying experts, Judge O’Brien requires the production and exchange of expert reports. Expert reports shall reflect the expert’s opinion as to each issue on which the expert will testify. An expert will not be permitted to testify or provide opinions on issues not raised in the expert’s report. Supplemental expert reports will be permitted only with leave of Court.
Final Pretrial Civil Conference
Trial counsel and their clients are required to attend the final pretrial conference. If an insurance company is involved, a representative with full settlement authority shall attend. Parties should be prepared to discuss settlement. Parties should also be prepared to discuss any motions in limine, jury instructions, manner and method of presenting witnesses, and anticipated length of trial.
As set forth in the Court’s Case Management Order, witness lists, stipulations, trial briefs, motions in limine, and transcripts of any videotape depositions that will be introduced at trial, including an index of objections, shall be filed and submitted to the Court and opposing counsel by the final pretrial. Counsel shall also present a joint set of agreed jury instructions, verdict forms, and special interrogatories in written format and electronically by e-mail to the Court by the final pretrial. Separate instructions, verdict forms, and special interrogatories shall be submitted only on those issues where agreement is not possible.
Jury trials are scheduled to begin on Mondays and Wednesdays. Typically, there will be no trial held on Thursday due to criminal call day. Trials will usually adjourn for the day as close to 5:00 P.M. as practicable. Counsel should schedule their witnesses accordingly.
Judge O’Brien does not utilize jury questionnaires unless requested by counsel. Parties who wish to utilize a jury questionnaire for voir dire must provide the Court and opposing counsel the proposed questionnaire at least fourteen (14) days prior to trial.
Judge O’Brien encourages parties to use the available technology for the presentation of evidence. Any party may contact the Court prior to trial for a tutorial and opportunity to review the available technology. The Court technology allows for teleconference at the party’s own expense. If a party chooses to use teleconferencing, the Court must be notified at least three weeks in advance.
Assistance for the Hearing Impaired
Equipment is available to assist persons with hearing impairment. This equipment may be used by jurors, parties, witnesses, or anyone else in attendance at a hearing or trial. If a party believes that this equipment will be necessary or useful, please notify the Court in advance.
Criminal Call Day Procedures
Judge O’Brien holds criminal call day on Thursday mornings. Thursday afternoons are typically reserved for criminal hearings and civil damages/default hearings. Occasionally, Thursday afternoons will be reserved for a jury trial in progress.
The Court desires to be efficient in the use of its time and the time of the parties and their attorneys. In order to promote efficiency, the Court utilizes the following call day procedures:
First Pretrial Continuances
Defendants and counsel need not appear before the Court on the first pretrial if it is the intent of the defendant to seek a continuance. Defense counsel may submit an order for continuance, approved by the defendant and the prosecutor, on the condition that counsel will have reviewed the prosecutor’s file prior to the date of the rescheduled pretrial. Orders for first pretrial continuances are available the morning of call day or may be obtained in advance from Judge O'Brien's Bailiff. Time for such continuances shall be charged to defendants.
Sign In Sheets
Judge O’Brien utilizes sign in sheets for call day. Counsel shall sign in upon arrival. Cases will be called by the prosecutors in the order in which counsel signs in, with priority being given to those cases involving prisoners.