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The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org


William Terrell Hodges
District Judge


The following information was provided in response to a survey prepared by the Federal Court Practice Committee of The Florida Bar. This information is not binding on any judge or court official and may not be relied upon for precedential purposes. Further information may be found in the attachments (sample orders, etc.) referenced at the end of this Guide entry or on the court's website noted below.

JUDGE

Court: Middle District of Florida
Location of chambers: 207 NW Second Street
Ocala, Florida 34475
Assigned courtroom: Third Floor
Phone: (352) 690-6907
Email address (only for proposed orders or jury instructions):

CHAMBERS

Staff:
Judicial Assistant/Secretary: Barbara Wood
Phone: (352) 690-6907
Email address:

Courtroom Deputy: Maurya McSheehy
Phone: (352) 369-4862
Email address:

Court Reporter: Dennis Miracle
Phone: (352) 369-7401
Email address:

Docket Clerk:
Phone:
Email address:

Law Clerk phone number(s), only if you permit law clerk(s) to receive calls:

Communication with chambers:

Do you permit contact with chambers

      regarding questions of procedure?

      regarding the status of pending matters?

May counsel contact chambers to speak with your law clerks(s)

      on procedural matters?

      on the status of pending matters?

Comments:

USE OF CELL PHONES, LAPTOPS, AND OTHER ELECTRONICS IN COURT

Other than procedures adopted by the U.S. Marshal's Service relating to access to a federal courthouse, do you have any additional procedures to be followed for the use of cell phones, laptops, or other electronics?

Is there a designated court staff person to contact relating to the use of electronic media or other audiovisual needs?

*Always verify with the Clerk of Court or the U.S. Marshal's Service as to any procedures relating to the use of cell phones or other electronic devices at the courthouse.

CM/ECF PROCEDURES
(in addition to Local Rules or CM/ECF procedures applicable in the District)

Do you have a preferred method for counsel to correct an electronically filed document that inadvertently contains personal information (as prohibited by Fed.R.Civ.P. 5.2)?

Do you have a preferred method governing the filing of sealed documents?

Do you prefer that (non-trial) exhibits be filed as separate docket entries (instead of filing them as attachments to the document they support)?

When filing documents with multiple attachments, do you prefer that the document be filed such that it is displayed with bookmarks within the PDF image? (This question only applies if such filing is available as a format for filing attachments in your District.)

Do you prefer that (non-trial) exhibits and depositions be filed conventionally as well as on CM/ECF?

      If YES, do you require more than one copy to be filed?

Do you prefer to have proposed orders (other than those required to be filed in the case) submitted as an attachment to documents filed in CM/ECF, or do you prefer to receive them by email or another method?

Should proposed orders be submitted in a format which can be edited, or is a PDF version acceptable?

Comments:


Do you conduct preliminary pretrial conferences in criminal cases? No

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

Do you require the defendant to be present at status conferences?

      If YES, do you have the same policy for defendants in custody and for defendants on bond?

Do you conduct suppression hearings or do you refer them to a Magistrate Judge? Such motions are typically referred to the U.S. Magistrate Judge.

Do you conduct hearings on pretrial motions to dismiss or to sever? Yes

Do you take the plea or do you regularly refer plea hearings to a Magistrate Judge?

If you regularly refer plea hearings to a Magistrate Judge, what circumstances would permit the parties to have a plea hearing before you?

Do you have a regular plea deadline?

      If YES, when is that deadline?

      If NO, is a plea deadline set at pretrial conferences?

What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas? Such pleas will not normally be accepted absent consent of the United States.

Do you have any special procedures regarding plea agreements for individuals who are cooperating with the government, e.g., sealed plea agreements, etc.?

What is your policy as to plea agreements that involve sentencing recommendations? Ruling is reserved until preparation and submission of the Presentence Report. Acceptance or rejection of such recommendations will then be announced at the sentencing hearing.

Comments:

PRETRIAL PROCEDURE (CIVIL)

Do you issue a standard pretrial order? (Please attach a copy at the end of this survey.)

Do you conduct preliminary pretrial hearings, e.g., pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 16?

      If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during preliminary pretrial hearings? Only rarely. In most cases the purposes of a preliminary pretrial hearing are accomplished through the procedure prescribed by Rule 3.05 (c)(2), M.D. Fla. rules. In complex cases the Court may schedule preliminary pretrial hearings in accordance with the procedures recommended by the Manual on Complex Litigation published by the Federal Judicial Center.

Do you have any requirements, beyond those found in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules, as to motions for extension of time or motions for continuance?

      If YES, what do you require?

Other than as required by Local Rules, do you prefer that the moving parties submit proposed orders along with non-dispositive motions? No

Do you have any requirements, beyond those found in the Federal Rules and the Local Rules, as to ex parte temporary restraining orders? See Rule 4.05, M.D. Fla. Rules.

Do you generally hear preliminary injunction motions? Yes

      If YES, do you permit evidence to be introduced?

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

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

      copies of published cases? No

      copies of unpublished opinions?

If copies of cases are submitted, do you accept copies that have portions highlighted by counsel? No

Do you regularly set aside time during a given week/month for hearings on motions? No

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

Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings? Occasionally in order to accommodate emergency or avoid hardship. Otherwise, telephonic hearings are discouraged.

What is your practice concerning oral arguments on dispositive motions? Oral argument is not normally scheduled where the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and records, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument.

Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial? Yes

      If YES, how far in advance should they be filed? The filing of any intended motions in limine should be raised and discussed at the final pretrial conference.

Comments:

Other than those discovery schedules contained in Local Rules, do you have special discovery deadlines or procedures for certain types of cases (ERISA, FLSA, etc.)? No

      If YES, what types of cases and what are the deadlines or procedures?

Do you routinely refer discovery matters to a Magistrate Judge? Yes

When a dispute arises during a deposition, is it appropriate to call your chambers or the Magistrate Judge's chambers (depending on whether the case has been referred for discovery) to seek an immediate ruling?

Comments:


What is your preference regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration or mediation?

Do you require counsel to submit a proposed order referring the case to mediation?

Do you have a procedure for counsel to request referral to a Magistrate Judge for settlement conferences?

Do you have any special procedures for the settlement of FLSA cases?

Comments:

TRIAL

Do you automatically set civil cases for trial or do you wait for counsel to propose a time period in which a case should be scheduled for trial?

Do you grant specially set trial dates (dates certain)?

      If YES, under what circumstances will you grant trial dates certain? Not ordinarily, however, cases placed at the head of the trial calendar are, in effect, given a date certain; and the Court may occasionally specify with respect to other trailing cases that one or more of such cases will not be called before a certain date during the term so that counsel are, in effect, protected from any obligation to appear prior to that date.

      IF NO, what is your policy regarding notice for trial during a trial docket (e.g., will you give at least 48 hours' notice)? Counsel will normally be given 24 to 48 hours notice. However, in jury cases counsel may be required to appear on shorter notice for purposes of selecting the jury to be followed, then, by commencement of the trial on the following business day.

What is your practice or procedure regarding rescheduling trials that are not reached on a trial docket, e.g., will the trial date be automatically rescheduled on your next trial docket?

Do you conduct pretrial conferences?

      If YES, and you have a standing order regarding pretrial conferences, please attach a copy at the end of this survey.

Do you conduct Daubert hearings prior to trial?

What, if any, procedural requirements do you have regarding the use of videotapes, trial graphics, depositions, and demonstrations? No standard procedure; subject should be raised, discussed and settled at the final pretrial conference.

Do you require trial briefs

      in jury trials? No

      in bench trials? No

If you require trial briefs, when are they due? See above.

Do you have any requirements for trial briefs? If trial briefs are invited by the Court, the subject matter to be addressed and the time of filing will be specified at the final pretrial conference.

Do you permit counsel to perform voir dire? No

      If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?

      If NO, can counsel submit proposed voir dire questions? Yes

            If YES, when should such questions be submitted? At any time up to, and during, the conduct of the voir dire examination.

What are your peremptory challenge procedures? See attached (Appendix A

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

      If NO, do you limit each side (i.e., plaintiff/defense) to a total of three peremptory challenges to be shared?

Do you allow back striking during jury selection?

Do you impose any standard time limits on counsel's opening statements?

      If YES, what are the time limits? The time allowed for opening statements will be discussed with counsel at the beginning of trial and will be determined at that time.

Can exhibits be used in opening statements? Yes

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

Do you permit jurors to

      take notes? Yes

      ask questions?

      If YES, under what constraints and restrictions? I do not inform jurors as a regular course that they may ask questions. However, if the jury itself raises the subject the Court may permit the submission of written questions from the jury at the end of the examination of a witness by all counsel, i.e., before the witness is excused.

What, if any, procedures do you have concerning objections at trial? In making objections counsel should state only the legal grounds for the objection and should withhold all further comment or argument unless elaboration is requested by the Court. See Rule 5.03 (b)(12), M.D. Fla. Rules.

When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions? This subject will be discussed at the final pretrial conference. Ordinarily, counsel are asked not to file any proposed jury instructions in advance of trial. The Court will prepare a package of instructions drawn primarily from the Pattern Jury Instructions of the Circuit, and will present that package to counsel at the beginning of trial. Counsel are then invited to submit supplemental instructions, if any, at their earliest opportunity thereafter. Objections to the Court's package, if any, will be heard during the charge conference at the end of trial.

Should jury instructions also be submitted to chambers electronically?

When standard jury instructions are available, do you prefer that attorneys submit condensed versions of the standard instructions? No

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

      If YES, when do you require the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to be filed? After trial and within a time to be fixed at the conclusion of the trial.

      Should the proposed findings and conclusions also be submitted to chambers electronically?

Comments:

SENTENCING

Do you require sentencing memos from the parties?

      If YES, what is the deadline for filing a sentencing memo?

      If NO, may parties file a sentencing memo?

If counsel anticipates a contested or extensive sentencing hearing, should counsel notify the court?

If you are considering an upward departure under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, do you provide notice orally or in writing?

In a proceeding for a violation of supervised release conditions, do you personally conduct the admissions/findings of fact hearing or do you refer this to a Magistrate Judge?

Comments:

GENERAL ADVICE

What should lawyers avoid at all costs when appearing before you (other than the obvious: don't be late, do be courteous, etc.), i.e., do you have any “pet peeves”?

Do you have any other practice pointers, advice, observations, or suggestions for members of the Bar appearing before you?
Prepare diligently, listen carefully and behave professionally.

LINKS

Links to your court's webpage with information about your practices or other links you recommend for practitioners:


ATTACHMENTS
Sample orders (please include a sample of any scheduling orders), biography, etc.

JURY SELECTION.pdf

Survey last modified on 06/18/2008

[Revised: 04-05-2013]