Exit Exit

Last Modified 05/26/2004 04:57 PM
Shelby Highsmith
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 Building, 99 N.E. 4th Street Room 1027, Miami, FL 33132
Phone Number: (305) 523-5170
Assigned Courtroom: 5, Room 1016

    Scheduling Assistant/Secretary: Laura A Sabbatino
    Courtroom Deputy: Anita Greer
    Phone Number: (305) 523-5175

    Docket Clerk: Gracie Perez
    Phone Number:
    (305) 523-5238

      Law Clerks:

        (1) David Lancz
        Term Ending: 4/06
        Law School: Harvard Law School

        (2) Jennifer Ayala
        Term Ending: 8/04
        Law School: George Washington School of Law

        (3) Anjanette Cabrera
        Term Ending: 8/05
        Law School: Brooklyn Law School

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

    A. Preliminary Pretrial Hearings:

      Do you conduct preliminary pretrial hearings?

      If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during preliminary pretrial hearings?
      As soon as case is at issue, it is set for status conference at which a trial schedule and trial date are set. The particular facts and issues in the case are also discussed with counsel.

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

    B. Motion Practice:

      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?
      The written submissions are reviewed and if deemed appropriate, a hearing is held.

      Do you hear preliminary injunction motions yourself?
      Yes___No___ It depends upon the case and the exigencies of the situation.

      If NO, do you routinely refer preliminary injunctions for report and recommendation by a U.S. Magistrate Judge?

      If YES, do you limit the hearing to argument of counsel?
      Yes___No_X_ At the hearing, counsel may proffer evidence.

      If NO, what are your procedures for the receipt of evidence during a hearing on a preliminary injunction?
      Receive documentary and testimonial evidence, as appropriate

      What is your practice concerning oral arguments of dispositive motions?
      Oral arguments are only set for cases that present complex or first impression issues.

    C. Settlement:

      What is your policy/practice regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution devices such as court-annexed, non-binding arbitration and mediation?
      Upon setting a trial date, an Order of Referral To Mediation is issued requiring parties to participate in mediation.

      Do you personally conduct settlement discussions?

      If YES, under that circumstances?

    D. Discovery:

      Do you refer discovery matters to a U.S. Magistrate Judge?
      Yes___No_X_ Not routinely.

    E. Pretrial Conference:

      Do you personally conduct pretrial conferences in your cases?
      Yes___No_X_ Unless requested by counsel.

      If YES, do you have a standing order regarding pretrial conference?

      If YES, please attach a copy.
      However a comprehensive order addressing pretrial activities is entered immediately following the status conference. Sample attached.
    A. Preliminary Pretrial Hearings:

      Do you personally conduct preliminary pretrial conferences in criminal cases?
      Yes___No_X_ Unless the case is complex or involves a significant number of defendants.

      If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during a preliminary pretrial conference?
      Pretrial schedule, trial settings, jury selection.

      If NO, do you refer preliminary pretrial conferences to U.S. Magistrate Judges?

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

      If YES, what is your policy?
      Jencks Act material must be provided, at the latest, the morning on which the witness testifies.

    B. Pleas:

      What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford?
      No specific policy.

      What is your policy concerning plea arrangements that involve sentencing recommendations?
      No specific policy.
    A. Trial Dates:

      Do you grant trial dates certain?
      Yes_X_No___ Only in specific circumstances.

      If YES, under what circumstances will you grant trial date certain?
      Civil cases involving complex or multi-district litigation. Criminal cases involving multiple defendants and/or anticipated trial time exceeding 10 days.

      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 trial will be rolled over to successive periods until reached.

      What is your policy regarding notice of being called for trial during a trial docket? [e.g., 48 hours]
      24 hours notice.

    B. Trial Briefs.

      Do you require trial briefs in jury trials?
      Yes___No_X_ But they are accepted when unusual or complex issues are anticipated.

      Do you require trial briefs in bench trials?
      Yes___No_X_ (same as above)

      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 before trial date.

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

    C. Voir Dire:

      Do you permit counsel to conduct voir dire?

      If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?
      It takes place after general voir dire is conducted by the Court. The time allotment is set depending upon the nature of the case. No fact hypothetical commitment questions are allowed.

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


      If YES, when should such questions be submitted?
      These are not necessary under our procedure.

      What are your preemptory challenge procedures?
      In civil cases, the sides alternate. In criminal cases, the government always goes first. No back strikes allowed.

      In multiple party cases, do you grant each party three preemptory challenges?
      Yes___No___ The number is based on the particular circumstances of the case.

      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?
      X_ Times are determined at trial.

      If YES, what are the time limits?

      Can exhibits be used in opening statements?
      Yes_X_No___ For demonstrative purposes only.

    E. Use of Expert:

      Do you conduct Daubert hearings prior to trial?
      Yes___No___ Occasionally ( I have conducted hearings with regard to polygraphs, for example).

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

      No special procedure.

    G. Procedure For Objections:

      Attorney must articulate basis unless obvious. No speaking objections allowed. In some cases, to avoid repetition, a standing objection is granted.

    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?
      Notes are for the jurors' personal use only and may not be shared. They are sealed at the end of each day.
      Do you allow the submission of sentencing memoranda?

      If YES, under what circumstances do you allow such submission?
      In complex cases or cases involving issues of first impression.

      Do you divulge the probation officer's sentencing recommendation?
      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?

Attachment 1.pdf Order Setting Trial Date and Discovery Schedule

© The Florida Bar - 2005 - Version 1.0.2