Motions in limine, final trial conferences featured in 'View from the Bench' program

Issue January/February 2017 By Thomas M. Bond

Standing Order 1-88 (S.O.88) addresses the contents of a pretrial memo for the pretrial conference, which generally happens from six to nine months before trial. But S.O. 88 does not provide any guidelines for final trial conferences, and does not make them mandatory. S.O. 88 provides only that five business days before trial, the parties submit a joint trial list to be presented to the trial judge at the commencement of trial. And three days before trial, the parties file a transcript of deposition testimony to be introduced at trial with the objections highlighted. There is literally a black hole in the rules as to when motions in limine, jury instructions, pre-charge, form of voir dire and other important matters are to be filed. Consequently, these matters are often presented to opposing counsel and to the court for the first time on the morning of trial, or at a final trial conference (in those sessions that schedule them) a few days before trial.

At the MBA's View From the Bench Series: Motions in Limine and Final Trial Conferences, sponsored by the Judicial Administration Section Council, five Superior Court judges gave their views on how and when to present trial issues to the court. Approximately 60 trial lawyers from the defense and plaintiff's bar, including small firm and large firm practitioners, attended this question and answer session. The consensus was that there should be a "default rule" in S.O. 88, requiring parties to submit and brief pretrial motions, oppositions, and requests for jury instructions in advance of a Final Trial Conference, and that these should be argued at the Final Trial Conference. This would make the trial go more smoothly, and would avoid keeping the jury waiting while these issues are being argued on the morning of trial.

Thomas M. Bond is the vice chair of Judicial Administration Section Council.

Standing Order 1-88 (S.O.88) addresses the contents of a pretrial memo for the pretrial conference, which generally happens from six to nine months before trial. But S.O. 88 does not provide any guidelines for final trial conferences, and does not make them mandatory. S.O. 88 provides only that five business days before trial, the parties submit a joint trial list to be presented to the trial judge at the commencement of trial. And three days before trial, the parties file a transcript of deposition testimony to be introduced at trial with the objections highlighted. There is literally a black hole in the rules as to when motions in limine, jury instructions, pre-charge, form of voir dire and other important matters are to be filed. Consequently, these matters are often presented to opposing counsel and to the court for the first time on the morning of trial, or at a final trial conference (in those sessions that schedule them) a few days before trial.
At the MBA's View From the Bench Series: Motions in Limine and Final Trial Conferences, sponsored by the Judicial Administration Section Council, five Superior Court judges gave their views on how and when to present trial issues to the court. Approximately 60 trial lawyers from the defense and plaintiff's bar, including small firm and large firm practitioners, attended this question and answer session. The consensus was that there should be a "default rule" in S.O. 88, requiring parties to submit and brief pretrial motions, oppositions, and requests for jury instructions in advance of a Final Trial Conference, and that these should be argued at the Final Trial Conference. This would make the trial go more smoothly, and would avoid keeping the jury waiting while these issues are being argued on the morning of trial.
Thomas M. Bond is the vice chair of Judicial Administration Section CouncilStanding Order 1-88 (S.O.88) addresses the contents of a pretrial memo for the pretrial conference, which generally happens from six to nine months before trial. But S.O. 88 does not provide any guidelines for final trial conferences, and does not make them mandatory. S.O. 88 provides only that five business days before trial, the parties submit a joint trial list to be presented to the trial judge at the commencement of trial. And three days before trial, the parties file a transcript of deposition testimony to be introduced at trial with the objections highlighted. There is literally a black hole in the rules as to when motions in limine, jury instructions, pre-charge, form of voir dire and other important matters are to be filed. Consequently, these matters are often presented to opposing counsel and to the court for the first time on the morning of trial, or at a final trial conference (in those sessions that schedule them) a few days before trial.

 

 

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