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Last Modified 03/31/2005 12:06 PM
Paul C. Huck
U.S. District Judge

The following information has been secured by voluntary questionnaire from the judiciary. This information is not binding on any judge or court official and may not be relied upon for precedential purposes.

Location of Chambers: James Lawrence King Federal Justice Bldg.
99 N.E. 4th Street, Suite 1067
Miami, Florida 33132
Phone Number: (305) 523-5520
Assigned Courtroom: Courtroom 6, 10th floor, JLK Federal Justice Bldg.

    Scheduling Assistant/Secretary: Genny McGee

    Courtroom Deputy: Genny McGee
    Phone Number: (305) 523-5525
      Law Clerks
        (1): Dana S. Gehret (All Civil Cases ending in "00" through "29")
        Term Ending: Career

        (2): Rebecca Plasencia (All Civil Cases ending in an odd digit except those from "00" through "29")
        Term Ending: September, 2005

        (3): Jeffrey Cook (All Civil Cases ending in an even digit except those from "00" through "29")
        Term Ending: Novemeber, 2005

    Policy regarding communication with staff [i.e., Do you permit counsel to contact assigned law clerks?]:

    Docketing Clerk: Nury Toloza
    Phone number: (305) 523-5238

    Is it appropriate to telephone Chambers regarding questions of procedure on pending matters?

    Is it appropriate to telephone your assigned docketing clerk or deputy clerk at the Clerk’s office regarding the status of pending matters?
    A. Preliminary Pretrial Hearings:

      Do you conduct preliminary pretrial hearings?

      If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during preliminary pretrial hearings?
      Motions in limine, use of depositions at trial, the order for presenting evidence, scheduling of witnesses, unresolved motions.

    B. Motion Practice:

      Should courtesy copies of pleadings and motions be forwarded to Chambers?
      Yes___No_X_ Appropriate number of copies should be filed with Clerk in compliance with local rules. Clerk's Office forwards courtesy copy to chambers. Counsel should note that Judge Huck requires a reply memorandum to be filed in support of all motions, even though the rules of civil procedure do not require a reply. Judge Huck participates in the fax back program. Do not send envelopes for proposed orders to chambers.

      Should copies of cases cited in motions and memoranda be forwarded to Chambers?
      Yes___No_X_ Except as requested.

      If so, do you object to cases printed in “Westlaw” or CD-ROM format rather than copied from a reporter? Yes___No_X_

      Is it appropriate to cite unpublished opinions in motions or memoranda?
      Yes_X_No___ Prefer the Westlaw citation (as opposed to Lexis)

      If so, should copies be attached to the motions or memoranda?

      If copies of cases are submitted, do you accept copies which have portions highlighted by counsel?
      Yes_X_No___ So long as similar highlighting is provided to opposing counsel.

      Do you allow telephonic hearings?

      What can an attorney do to call attention to a pending motion of particular importance to expedite ruling?
      File a notice of pending matter and explain whether fully briefed and need for expedited ruling.

      Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial?

      If you will consider motions in limine prior to trial, how far in advance should they be filed?
      This deadline is established in the trial setting order. The deadline is generally two weeks before trial.

      Do you regularly set aside time during a given week/month for hearings on motions?

      If YES, when is your normal hearing date/time?
      Hearings are set on a case-by-case basis usually before and after regular trial time each day.

      What are your procedures concerning ex-parte temporary restraining orders?
      File appropriate motion with Clerk's office. I determine how to proceed on a case-by-case basis.

      What is your practice concerning oral arguments of dispositive motions?
      Oral arguments are granted on case-by-case basis depending on the complexity of the motion and novelty of the issues raised.

      Misc: Parties must comply with the Local Rules for the Southern District of Florid and, specifically, Rules 7.1.A.2 & 7.1.A.3

    C. Settlement:

      What is your policy/practice regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution devices such as court-annexed, non-binding arbitration and mediation?
      Encouraged, Mediation required in all cases by the date set in trial order. If parties are unable to arrange mediation by date set in trial order, Court should be promptly notified of the problem.

      Do you personally conduct settlement discussions?

      If YES, under what circumstances?

    D. Discovery:

      Do you refer discovery matters to a U.S. Magistrate Judge?
      Yes_X_No___ As a general practice, but some discovery motions are not referred if more appropriately resolved by the district judge.

      When a dispute arises during a deposition, is it appropriate to call the Chambers to seek an immediate ruling?

    E. Pretrial Conference:

      Do you personally conduct pretrial conferences in your cases?
      Yes_X_No___ However, pretrial conferences are held only in unusual or complex cases, or on an as needed basis.

      If Yes, do you have a standing order regarding pretrial conference?
      Yes___No_X_ If Yes, please attach a copy.

      When matters are referred to you for pretrial conferences, do you have a standing order regarding pretrial conference?
      Yes___No___ N/A

      If YES, please attach a copy.
    A. Preliminary Pretrial Hearings:

      Do you personally conduct preliminary pretrial conferences in criminal cases?
      Yes_X_No___ on an "as needed" basis

      If Yes, what matters do you typically discuss during the preliminary pretrial conference?
      Scheduling problems, outstanding pretrial motions and discovery issues which may affect trial date, jury selection, and jury instructions.

      If No, do you refer preliminary pretrial conferences to U.S. Magistrate Judge?

      Do you have a policy regarding the timing of disclosure of Jencks Act material?

      If YES, what is your policy?
      Government is encouraged to make early pretrial disclosure to avoid last minute disclosure disputes, at least the morning before witness is called to testify absent special circumstances.

    B. Pleas:

      What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?
      Generally, not accepted.

      What is your policy concerning plea arrangements that involve sentencing recommendations pursuant to Fed. Rule Crim. P. 11(B)?; Pursuant to Rule 11(C)?
    A. Trial dates:

      Do you grant trial dates certain?
      Yes_X_No___ But, generally, only to the extent that the trial will occur in a specified two week trial period. Judge Huck does not necessarily wait for the Rule 16b scheduling conference and report to set a case for trial. Therefore, if you receive an order setting trial date and pretrial deadlines, counsel need not file the Rule 16b report.

      If YES, under what circumstances will you grant trial date certain?
      A trial date certain will be granted for unusually long cases or in special circumstances involving witness or interpreter availability. Counsel should advice the Court of special circumstances as early as possible.

      If a case is not reached during the scheduled trial term, will the trial date be automatically rescheduled on your next trial docket?

      If NO, what is your practice or procedure regarding rescheduling trials which are not reached on a trial docket?
      I generally consult with counsel and reset the matter to a future trial docket, which may be the next trial docket.

      What is your policy regarding notice of being called for trial during a trial docket? [e.g., 48 hours]
      Counsel are advised at calendar call of approximate time for trial and are given several periodic updates as other cases proceed through the trial docket.

    B. Trial briefs:

      Do you require trial briefs in jury trials?

      Do you require trial briefs in bench trials?
      Yes___No_X_ However, briefs may be submitted and are encouraged on complex or unique cases. The parties should discuss whether they intend to file trial briefs.

      What are your requirements for trial briefs?
      No special requirements.

      When are trial briefs due?
      Prior to calendar call.

      Do you require proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to be filed in bench trials?

      If YES, when do you require the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to be filed?
      One week in advance of trial.

      Should findings of fact and conclusions of law filed in connection with a bench trial also be submitted to Chambers on a disk?
      Yes_X_No___ But, the document should be CREATED in Corel WordPerfect 8.0 or higher, not created in MSWORD and then converted, as this latter procedure causes significant computer problems.

      When do you require parties to file proposed jury instructions?
      Proposed jury instructions and verdict form must be submitted at least ONE WEEK prior to the beginning of the trial calendar. The parties shall submit a SINGLE JOINT set of proposed jury instructions and verdict form, though the parties need not agree on the proposed language of each or any instruction or question on the verdict form. Where the parties do agree on a proposed instruction or question, that instruction or question shall be set forth in Times New Roman 14 point typeface. Instructions and questions proposed only by the plaintiff(s) to which the defendant(s) object shall be italicized. Instructions and questions proposed only the defendant(s) to which the plaintiff(s) object shall be bold-faced. Each jury instruction shall be typed on a separate sheet and must be supported by citations of authority. Each disputed jury instruction shall also state the basis for the objection(s) at the bottom of the sheet, before the citations of authority. In preparing their requested jury instruction, the parties shall utilize as a guide the Pattern Jury Instructions for Civil Cases approved by the United States Eleventh Circuit, including the Directions to Counsel contained therein. A copy of the proposed jury instructions and verdict form shall be delivered to chambers at the time of filing, together with a computer disk compatible with Corel WordPerfect version 8.0.

      Where standard jury instructions are available, do you prefer that attorneys submit condensed versions of the standard instructions?

      Should jury instructions also be submitted to Chambers on a computer disk?
      Yes_X_No___ But, the document should be CREATED in Corel WordPerfect 8.0 or higher, not created in MSWORD and then converted, as this latter procedure causes significant computer problems.

    C. Voir Dire:

      Do you allow counsel to ask questions during voir dire?

      If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?
      The nature of any particular case obviously will affect the scope of jury voir dire. However, the general ground rules of jury voir dire in this court are as follows:
      1. Judge Huck will first explain nature of case and burden of proof and will give some preliminary instructions to the jury.
      2. The court will then conduct general voir dire covering knowledge of case, acquaintance with participants, importance of following court's instructions on law and impartiality in general.
      3. The court will first ask each juror in the entire panel to stand and give her or his general background. The Court will then ask questions of the entire panel regarding the jurors' prior experiences. These questions are contained in a form questionnaire which is distributed to the panel members before they enter the courtroom. The court will ask follow-up questions as appropriate.
      4. Counsel will then have a brief opportunity to ask questions that the court has not already asked or to follow up on an answer to the Court's questions. Counsel are usually allocated 10 to 15 minutes each side for this purpose.
      5. Counsel should not ask questions which:
        a. have already been asked.
        b. anticipate instructions on law which have not been given.
        c. ask a juror to speculate on his verdict if certain facts are proven
        d. solicit a juror's opinion as to law or legal terms.
        e. are clearly irrelevant and seek to embarrass or establish rapport with a juror.
        f. questions that are in the substance arguments of the case, or
        g. questions which are grossly unfair or embarrassing to the juror and questions where the average juror cannot possibly know the answer.
      6. The Court will not wait for opposing counsel to object but will interrupt voir dire and rule out questions which violate any of the foregoing ground rules

      After the voir dire is completed, counsel will come to side bar to select their jury. Challenges for cause to the whole panel will be taken first. Thereafter, the plaintiff/government will accept or reject the first member of the panel. If the plaintiff/government accepts the first member, then the defendant accepts or rejects the member. The defendant will then accept or reject the second member. If the defendant accepts the second member, then the plaintiff/government will accept or reject the second member. Plaintiff/government and defendant will continue to alternate until a jury is selected or a party exhausts its preemptory challenges. There will be no backstrikes.

      Unless otherwise ordered, all plaintiffs and all defendants combined shall have three preemptory challenges in civil cases, ten in criminal cases; Defendants and the government have ten and six, respectively, plus one additional challenge for the alternate jurors.

      Unless otherwise ordered, the civil case jury shall usually consist of eight jurors, all of whom will deliberate unless excused by the court.

      If judge conducts voir dire, can parties submit proposed voir dire questions?
      Yes_X_No___ But this is rarely the case.

      If YES, when should such questions be submitted?
      At calendar call

      What are your preemptory challenge procedures?
      See above.

      In multiple party cases, do you grant each party three preemptory challenges?
      Yes_X_No___ If the parties are adverse.

      If NO, do you limit each side [i.e., plaintiff/defense] a total of three preemptory challenges to be shared?

    D. Opening Statement:

      Do you have any standard time limits imposed upon counsel?
      Yes___No_X_ The time limits are discussed with counsel and determined based on the nature and complexity of the case.

      If YES, what are the time limits?

      Can exhibits be used in opening statements?
      Yes_X_No___ If the exhibit will come into evidence. The parties should discuss this prior to voir dire.

      Do you allow plaintiffs to make a rebuttal during opening statements?

    E. Use of Expert:

      Do you conduct Daubert hearings prior to trial?

    F. Procedure For Use Of Videotapes, Trial Graphics, Depositions and Demonstrations:

      The parties are free to use all but should make sure they have working equipment and that it will be reasonably accommodated by the size of the courtroom. Counsel must obtain orders allowing them to bring necessary equipment into the courthouse.

    G. Procedure For Objections:

      Stand, make non-speaking, succinct objection. Judge Huck allows sidebar conferences as appropriate. However, sidebars will be limited to those issues that would prejudice the parties if discussed in open court. Judge Huck expects the parties to anticipate and discuss potential evidentiary problems prior to putting a witness on the stand and to bring the issue to my attention in the morning prior to the jury coming in, during breaks and in the afternoon after the jury leaves so that I may rule on the matter. The judge will always make myself available for hearing these matters outside the presence of the jury if the parties timely advise him or his staff. He encourages and expect counsel to confer beforehand on such matter to the extent reasonably possible. Counsel should also attempt to agree on the admissibility of exhibits prior to offering them. This too, should be done before the jury is brought into the courtroom.

    H. Jury Procedures:

      Do you permit jurors to take notes? Yes_X_No___

      Do you permit jurors to ask questions either orally (writing)?

      If YES, under what constraints and restrictions?
5. SENTENCING: (On Misdemeanors Only)
      Do you allow the submission of sentencing memoranda? Yes_X_No___

      If YES, under what circumstances do you allow such submission?
      Whenever the defendant takes issue with the facts or conclusions in the pre-sentence report.

      Do you divulge the probation officer’s sentencing recommendation?
      What are your “pet peeves,” for the information of the lawyers appearing before you?
      The failure of counsel to talk to one another about potential evidentiary problems, including admissibility of exhibits, before those problems arise in the middle of trial, in front of the jury.
      Attorneys who are late and unprepared for hearings or trial. If an attorney realizes he/she will be late, the attorney should promptly advise the court's staff so the Court and opposing counsel know when to expect counsel.

      What, if any, other observations or suggestions do you have for members of the Bar appearing before you?

© The Florida Bar - 2005 - Version 1.0.2