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Practice Tip: Check Courtroom Rules and Standing Orders
Post on February 24th, 2022

As the Covid numbers continue to drop and restrictions ease, we anticipate more cases will be going to trial in 2022. Before gearing up for trial, remember to check for any courtroom rules and standing orders that the judge has issued. In addition to the local rules issued for each court, each judge within that court may have his or her own courtroom rules or standing orders that describe the judge’s pretrial and trial preferences. These preferences are often very specific and are not consistent from judge to judge. Below are examples of specific preferences of various judges throughout Ohio:

  • In Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Judge Brendan Sheehan requires a trial brief and motions in limine one week before trial, and requires the opposing party to reply at least two days before trial.  In Judge Sheehan’s courtroom failure to file objections to depositions before trial is deemed a waiver of all objections and failure to conform the judge’s trial order is deemed a waiver of all objections to the proceedings.
  • Judge Nancy Russo, also of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, has a standing order for civil cases that requires the plaintiff to send the defendant a letter containing a demand at least two weeks before the final pretrial and copy the court. Likewise, the defendant must send the plaintiff a response with an offer one week before the final pretrial, copying the court. Failure to comply with any portion of the judge’s standing orders may result in a Dismissal Without Prejudice.
  • The judges of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas have differing preferences on motions in limine, among other trial procedures. Judge Richard Frye discourages motions in limine, allowing them only after good faith discussion by counsel, and upon certification that reasonable efforts to resolve the issue(s) were exhausted. Judge Kim Brown requires motions in limine at least 28 days before trial absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances with responses due 14 days after filing of the motion in limine. Unlike their counterparts in Cuyahoga County, neither Judge Frye nor Judge Brown require trial briefs.
  • Preferences on motions in limine and trial briefs also differ among the judges in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Christian A. Jenkins requires motions in limine 28 days before trial and trial briefs 14 days before trial. Judge Robert A. Goering’s courtroom rules do not set a deadline for motions in limine and instructs that trial briefs are welcome, but not required.
  • The court rules and civil trial orders of the federal judges vary even more from judge to judge. The civil trial order of Judge Jack Zouhary of the U.S. Dist. Court for the Northern District of Ohio warns that if a civil case settles within five (5) weeks of trial, $5,000 in court costs will be assessed against the parties absent a showing of good cause. The order also contains detailed instructions about submitting a deposition before trial. The order requires highlighting of the text in specific colors and adding information in the margins of the transcript.
  • Judge Sarah D. Morrison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has a standing order that strongly encourages oral advocacy opportunities for junior attorneys. According to the standing order, a party with a fully briefed civil motion pending may file a notice indicating that a junior attorney will argue the motion if oral argument is granted. The Court will grant the request if practicable “thereby advancing its expeditious resolution.”

If a judge has taken the time to publish a courtroom rule or standing order, it is safe to assume that the preferences are firmly held and the judge expects lawyers appearing in that courtroom to comply. Ignoring the judge’s preferences can have dire consequences for clients and undermine the credibility of the lawyer. Conversely, familiarity with these rules may provide an advantage, as shown in Judge Morrison’s standing order. For all litigated matters, check the court’s website or call the judge’s bailiff to get the local rules and a copy of all courtroom rules and standing orders and make sure to follow them.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us. We are here to help.

Gretchen Mote, Esq
Director of Loss Prevention
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614-572-0620
Email: [email protected]
Monica Waller, Esq.
Senior Loss Prevention Counsel
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614-859-2978
Email: [email protected]