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Last Modified 03/04/2005 08:34 AM
Patricia Ann Seitz
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:301 North Miami Avenue, 5th Floor, Miami, Fl 33128
    Phone Number: (305) 523-5530
    Assigned Courtroom:Courtroom 5
    Scheduling Assistant/Secretary: Karla Velasco
    Courtroom Deputy: Linda Webb
    Phone Number: (305) 523-5534

    Court Reporter: David Ehrlich
    Phone Number: (305) 523-5537

    Docketing Clerk: Clem Hammond
    Phone Number: (305) 523-5247

        Law Clerks:

          (1) Sharon Lisitzky (even cases)
          Term Ending: 8/05
          Law School: University of Miami

          (2) Kristen Foslid (odd cases)
          Term Ending: 10/06
          Law School: George Washington University 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:
      *Unless the complexity of the case requires one or the parties demonstrate one would expedite the resolution of the case. In lieu of a preliminary pretrial conference, issue the attached scheduling order requiring the parties to meet, in person, and prepare a report which covers discovery scheduling; settlement; the need for special master; special trial scheduling needs; legal elements of claims and defensesand the amount of damages; the use of the magistrate and/ or the need for a special master. This report is critical in the Court's case management and discovery decisions.

      If NO, do you refer preliminary pretrial hearings to a United States Magistrate Judge?
      Yes_X_No___ *Only if the parties have consented to refer the entire case to the 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?

      8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

      What are your procedures concerning ex-parte temporary restraining orders?
      Exparte hearings disfavored.

      Do you hear preliminary injunction motions yourself?

      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?


      If NO, what are your procedures for the receipt of evidence during a hearing on a preliminary injunction?
      *If there are disputed facts, the parties should provide direct testimony focused solely on the relevant, disputed material facts by way of a detailed affidavit and provide the affiant for in person cross-examination.

      What is your practice concerning oral arguments of dispositive motions?
      If it appears that (a) it is complex or (b) there are specific questions that need to be answered, the Court will schedule an oral argument.

    C. Settlement:

      What is your policy/practice regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution devices such as court-annexed, non-binding arbitration and mediation?
      Require mediation in all cases and require that it be completed shortly after the close of all discovery (i.e. before the filing of dispositive motions and pre-trial stipulation), unless the parties request or demonstrate a different timing will benefit resolution.

      Do you personally conduct settlement discussions?

      If YES, under that circumstances?

      If parties request and it is a jury case. At a minimum, will ask the parties to disclose the extent of the settlement discussions (i.e. how much effort has been expanded and how far apart they are) and will ask them what the court can do to assist in settlement.


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

    E. Pretrial Conference:

      Do you personally conduct pretrial conferences in your cases?

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

      If YES, please attach a copy.
      Issue standard case management order that is adapted to each case after the parties submit their joint scheduling report. The case management order sets the deadline dates for the case (discovery deadlines, pre-trial motions, mediation, pre-trial conference, trial, etc.) See attached order. At the pretrial conference, I provide the parties with a pre-trial agenda and voir dire instructions. See attached agenda and instructions.
    A. Preliminary Pretrial Hearings:

      Do you personally conduct preliminary pretrial conferences in criminal cases?

      If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during a preliminary pretrial conference?

      Have the Government tell me what the case is about, then discuss any special evidentiary, witness issues ;exhibits, voir dire, jury instructions and trial settings; may also discuss any discovery problems, pre-trial deadlines. Motions requiring evidentiary hearings are referred to the Magistrate Judge. Finally, ascertain the likelihood the case the will be resolved short of a trial. See criminal pre-trial agenda attached.

      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?

      Urge the Government to provide Jencks Act materials at least the Friday before the Monday start of trial, if not sooner. Otherwise urge disclosure the night before a witness will testify.

    B. Pleas:

      What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford?
      Will accept an Alford plea.

      What is your policy concerning plea arrangements that involve sentencing recommendations?
      Advise the defendant that the recommendation is not binding on the Court or U.S. Probation.
    A. Trial Dates:

      Do you grant trial dates certain?

      If YES, under what circumstances will you grant trial date certain?
      In criminal cases over three weeks long, or when there are special circumstances.

      If a case is not reached during the scheduled trial term, will the trial date be automatically rescheduled on your next trial docket?
      Yes_X_No___ * Unless, unusual circumstances. If it appears I may not be able to reach a case, and a judicial colleague is available, I will transfer the case to another judge so that the case will be tried during the scheduled trial term.

      If NO, what is your practice or procedure regarding rescheduling trials which are not reached on a trial docket?

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

      Advise the parties of their position on the trial docket at the calendar call. Therefore, notice can be as short as 24 hours.

    B. Trial Briefs:

      Do you require trial briefs in jury trials?
      Yes___No_X_ But they are welcomed, especially if they are succinct and cite the controlling U.S. 11th Circuit case law.

      Do you require trial briefs in bench trials?
      Yes___No_X_ Require proposed Findings of Facts and Conclusion of Law prior to the start of trial.

      What are your requirements for trial briefs?
      If filed, should be
      very succinct focused on key legal, factual or evidentiary points, and cite on point 11th Circuit case law.

      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?

      Noon, the Friday before start of trial. (unless the case is complex, then I will provide the due dates at the pre-trial conference.)

      When do you require parties to file proposed jury instructions?
      Final instructions are due noon the Friday before start of a Monday trial. Otherwise twenty-four hours before the start of trial. Proposed joint instructions must be filed prior to the pre-trial conference in civil cases. Government is responsible for preparing proposed instructions in criminal cases. Defendants are to provide ex parte any expected instructions prior to trial.

    C. Voir Dire:

      Do you permit counsel to conduct voir dire?

      If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?
      10 minutes per side to conduct follow up questions (after the Court's voir dire and the jurors oral biographical responses to questions.) See instructions attached to pre-trial conference agenda.

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

      Yes_X_No___ The parties must submit proposed voir dire questions for the judges portion of voir dire procedures.

      If YES, when should such questions be submitted?
      Noon the Friday before the start of trial.

      What are your preemptory challenge procedures?
      No strikebacks except in diversity cases involving Florida law.

      In multiple party cases, do you grant each party three preemptory challenges?
      Yes___No___ Depends on the number of parties and the nature 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_ within reason. The maximum time used to date has been 1 hour. Most opening statements are in the 15 to 35 minutes range.

      If YES, what are the time limits?

      Can exhibits be used in opening statements?

      Yes_X_No___ *If shown to opposing counsel in advance and there is no objection as to admissability.

    E. Use of Expert:

      Do you conduct Daubert hearings prior to trial?
      Yes_X_No___ *If there is a pre-trial motion to do so. If no motion is made, the Court assumes there is no Daubert objection.

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

      Need to advise other side prior to trial. On depositions, need to pre-designate pages. I ask the parties to develop a stipulation as to the non-contested information in the deposition and to read only those portions of the deposition relevant to the disputed issues in the case.

    G. Procedure For Objections:

      Must stand and cite the Federal Rule of Evidence. No speaking objections. No sidebar discussions. If an evidentiary issue might require a sidebar, it must be brought to the Court's attention before the start of the trial, at the end of the trial day or at the lunch break.

    H. Jury Procedures:

      Do you permit jurors to take notes?

      Do you permit jurors to ask questions either orally (writing)?
      X_No___ On occasion, if in writing, in civil cases.

      If YES, under what constraints and restrictions?

      *In view of the recent U.S. 11th Circuit decisions, will permit written questions in limited situation where both parties agree.
      Do you allow the submission of sentencing memoranda?

      Require submission sufficiently in advance that the non- moving party and the probation office can respond in writing.

      If YES, under what circumstances do you allow such submission?

      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 Scheduling Order

Attachment 2.pdf Scheduling Order-Class Action Filing

Attachment 3.pdf Trial Order - Bench

Attachment 4.pdf Trial Order - Jury

© The Florida Bar - 2005 - Version 1.0.2