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Last Modified 03/04/2005 08:34 AM
James I. Cohn
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: 299 East Broward Boulevard, 203F
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
Phone Number: 954-769-5490
Assigned Courtroom: 203E

    Scheduling Assistant/Secretary: Contact Courtroom Deputy for all scheduling in criminal matters. Contact the appropriate Law Clerk for civil matters.

    Courtroom Deputy: Valarie Thompkins
    Phone Number: 954-769-5495

      Law Clerks:

      (1): Phil Rothschild, Esq.
      Phone Number: 954-769-5492
      Term Ending: Career Law Clerk
      Law School: UCLA School of Law
      All civil cases ending in a "1" or "3"

      (2): Allen Blaustein, Esq.
      Phone Number: 954-769-5491
      Term Ending: 2005
      Law School: Washington University
      All civil cases ending in an odd number except "5", "7" or "9"

      (3): Caroline Maharbiz, Esq.
      Phone Number: 954-769-5493
      Term Number: 2005
      Law School: Yale University
      All civil cases ending in an even number except "2", "4", "6" or "8"

    Court Reporter: Anita LaRocaa
    Phone Number: 954-769-5498

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

    Docketing Clerk: Grace Perez
    Phone number: 954-769-5410

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

    Is it appropriate to telephone Chambers regarding the status of pending matters?
    A. Preliminary Pretrial Hearings:

      Do you conduct preliminary pretrial hearings?
      Yes___No_X_ Generally. Applications will be entertained upon showing of specific need.

      If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during preliminary pretrial hearings:
      Motions in limine, use of depositions, scheduling witnesses.

      If NO, do you refer preliminary pretrial hearings to a United States Magistrate Judge?

    B. Motion Practice:

      Should courtesy copies of pleadings and motions be forwarded to Chambers?

      Should copies of cases cited in motions and memoranda be forwarded to Chambers?

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

      Is it appropriate to cite unpublished opinions in motions or memoranda?

      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?

      Do you allow telephonic hearings?

      What can an attorney do to call attention to a pending motion of particular importance to expedite ruling?
      File notice of pending matter and explain 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?
      Two weeks prior to calendar call.

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

      If YES, when is your normal hearing date/time?

      What are your procedures concerning ex-parte temporary restraining orders?
      Notice is preferred if possible. Rule 65(b) will govern.

      Do you hear preliminary injunction motions yourself?

      If YES, do you limit the hearing to argument of counsel?

      If NO, what are your procedures for the receipt of evidence during a hearing on a preliminary injunction?

      What is your practice concerning oral arguments of dispositive motions?
      Granted when additional input needed due to complexity and/or novelty.

    C. Settlement:

      What is your policy/practice regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution devices such as court-annexed, non-binding arbitration and mediation?
      Mediation is required unless excepted by local rule.

      Do you personally conduct settlement discussions?

      If YES, under what circumstances?

    D. Discovery:

      Do you refer discovery matters to a U.S. Magistrate Judge?

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

    E. Pretrial Conference:

      Do you personally conduct pretrial conferences in your cases?
      Yes___No_X_ Generally. Will conduct pretrial conference in certain cases upon written showing of need.

      Do you have a standing order regarding pretrial conference?

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

      When you conduct preliminary pretrial conferences in criminal cases, what matters do you typically discuss during the conference?
      Conduct of the trial, scheduling, outstanding pretrial motions.

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

      If YES, what is your policy?

    B. Pleas:

      What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?
      Generally 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)?
      Generally accepted.
    A. Trial dates:

      Do you grant trial dates certain?

      If YES, under what circumstances will you grant trial date certain?
      If the case has particular logistical problems, lengthy or involves many attorneys.

      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?
      The Court will re-notice the case for trial.

      What is your policy regarding notice of being called for trial during a trial docket? [e.g., 48 hours]
      The Court will provide as much notice as possible, but generally no less than twenty-four (24) hours.

    B. Trial briefs:

      Do you require trial briefs in jury trials?

      Do you require trial briefs in bench trials?

      What are your requirements for trial briefs?

      When are trial briefs due?

      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 prior to trial.

      Should findings of fact and conclusions of law filed in connection with a bench trial also be submitted to Chambers on a disk?

      When do you require parties to file proposed jury instructions?
      One week prior to trial.

      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?

    C. Voir Dire:

      Do you allow counsel to ask questions during voir dire?
      Yes_X_No___ Limited.

      If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?
      Generally, ten (10) minutes per side. Could be longer depending on the nature of the case.

      If judge conducts voir dire, can parties submit proposed voir dire questions?

      If YES, when should such questions be submitted?
      Calendar Call

      What are your preemptory challenge procedures?
      Voir dire entire venire; alternating strikes; back-striking prohibited.

      In multiple party cases, do you grant each party three preemptory challenges?

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

    D. Opening Statement:

      Do you have any standard time limits imposed upon counsel?

      If YES, what are the time limits?

      Can exhibits be used in opening statements?

      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:

      Videotapes and depositions should be edited. If not agreed upon, objections should be filed prior to calendar call.

    G. Procedure For Objections:

      No speaking objections; side-bar conferences should be minimized.

    H. Jury Procedures:

      Do you permit jurors to take notes?

      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?

      If YES, under what circumstances do you allow such submission?
      No limitation.

      Do you divulge the probation officer’s sentencing recommendation?
      Yes___No_X_ Generally.
      What are your “pet peeves,” for the information of the lawyers appearing before you?

      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