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.
Court: Southern District of Florida
Location of chambers: 99 N.E. 4th Street, Miami, FL 33132
Assigned courtroom:11th Floor, Courtroom 3
Email address (only for proposed orders or jury instructions): [email protected]
Judicial Assistant/Secretary: N/A
Courtroom Deputy: Michael Santorufo
Email address: [email protected]
Court Reporter: N/A
Docket Clerk: N/A
Law Clerk phone number(s), only if you permit law clerk(s) to receive calls: 305-523-5720
Communication with chambers:
Do you permit contact with chambers
regarding questions of procedure? Yes
regarding the status of pending matters? Yes
May counsel contact chambers to speak with your law clerks(s)
on procedural matters? Yes
on the status of pending matters? Yes
Comments: Law clerks may not be asked substantive legal questions and they cannot provide advice on how to handle legal questions. In addition, counsel should not try to "lobby" the law clerks about the merits of the case. The law clerks typically pass on to me these efforts.
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? No
Is there a designated court staff person to contact relating to the use of electronic media or other audiovisual needs? Michael Santorufo
*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)? No.
Do you have a preferred method governing the filing of sealed documents? local rule
Do you prefer that (non-trial) exhibits be filed as separate docket entries (instead of filing them as attachments to the document they support)? No
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.) Yes
Do you prefer that (non-trial) exhibits and depositions be filed conventionally as well as on CM/ECF? No
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? Email
Should proposed orders be submitted in a format which can be edited, or is a PDF version acceptable? In "word" format, to be edited
PRETRIAL PROCEDURE (CRIMINAL)
At bond hearings, do you permit the government to proceed by proffer or do you require a government agent to be present to testify? Both. The government may first proceed by proffer but the government is required to have an agent available to be cross-examined by defense counsel.
If a proffer is permitted, can the defendant’s counsel call the government case agent and cross-examine him/her? Yes
If a proffer is permitted, do you prefer that defense counsel present the family of the defendant as witnesses by proffer instead of calling individual witnesses? Yes
What criteria do you apply in determining whether to impose a financial assessment on a defendant for the services of appointed counsel? financial condition
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 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? None permitted
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? None
PRETRIAL PROCEDURE (CIVIL)
Do you issue a standard pretrial order? (Please attach a copy at the end of this survey.) Yes
Do you conduct preliminary pretrial hearings, e.g., pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 16? Yes
If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during preliminary pretrial hearings? Discovery, ESI, potential discovery issues, mediation, deadlines, trial scheduling
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? Yes
If YES, what do you require? The district court judges determine motions to continue the trial date and they typically do not look favorably on those motions. For cases where the parties have consented to full magistrate jurisdiction, including trial, then counsel should first consult with all opposing counsel before seeking a trial continuance. I try to accommodate vacation schedules if the motion to continue is timely filed and if the vacation has not been scheduled after the trial has been scheduled.
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? No.
Do you hear preliminary injunction motions? Yes
If YES, do you permit evidence to be introduced? Yes
Should copies of cases cited in motions and memoranda be forwarded to chambers?
copies of published cases? Yes
copies of unpublished opinions? Yes
If copies of cases are submitted, do you accept copies that have portions highlighted by counsel? Yes
Do you regularly set aside time during a given week/month for hearings on motions? Yes
If YES, when is your normal hearing date/time? Friday afternoons -- scheduled discovery calendar
Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings? upon request of the parties, and usually, if requested, for out-of-town counsel on non-dispositive motions
What is your practice concerning oral arguments on referred dispositive motions? I frequently have them and I often grant motions for oral argument
Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial? Yes
If YES, how far in advance should they be filed? If I am conducting the trial by consent, then the deadlines are outlined in the pretrial scheduling order.
Do you receive referrals on discovery matters from a District Judge? Yes
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?
When a dispute arises during a deposition, is it appropriate to call your chambers (if the case has been referred for discovery) to seek an immediate ruling? Yes
Comments: But only if the dispute is significant and only if the deposition cannot proceed meaningfully without judicial intervention.
What is your preference regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration or mediation? In consent case, the scheduling order contains a mandatory mediation component
Do you require counsel to submit a proposed order referring the case to mediation? No
Do you have any special procedures for the settlement of FLSA cases? Yes
Comments: If the parties have consented to full magistrate jurisdiction, then I like the settlement agreement to be sent to chambers.
Do you automatically set consent cases for trial or do you wait for counsel to propose a time period in which a case should be scheduled for trial? I set them after the filing of the initial joint report but I will entertain motions to reschedule if filed shortly after the trial scheduling order is issued.
Do you grant specially set trial dates (dates certain)? Yes
If YES, under what circumstances will you grant trial dates certain? Almost always.
If NO, what is your policy regarding notice for trial during a trial docket (e.g., will you give at least 48 hours' notice)? There is no trial "docket" or "calendar" because all trials on full consent cases have been given a date certain for trial.
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? As noted, there is no trial docket.
Do you conduct pretrial conferences? Yes
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? Yes
What, if any, procedural requirements do you have regarding the use of videotapes, trial graphics, depositions, and demonstrations? Flexible and Lawyer-Friendly. They should, however, be made available to opposing counsel before the pretrial conference.
Do you require trial briefs
in jury trials? No
in bench trials? Yes
If you require trial briefs, when are they due? The deadlines for the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law are set out in the trial scheduling order.
Do you have any requirements for trial briefs? No.
Do you permit counsel to perform voir dire? Yes
If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire? I conduct the initial voir dire and also use questionnaires. I then give counsel the opportunity to ask questions.No efforts to condition the jury or to extract "promises"
If NO, can counsel submit proposed voir dire questions? Yes
If YES, when should such questions be submitted? Listed in the trial scheduling order.
What are your peremptory challenge procedures? The procedures will be discussed with counsel before trial, usually at the pretrial conference
In multiple party cases, do you grant each party three peremptory challenges? Yes
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? No
Do you impose any standard time limits on counsel's opening statements? Yes
If YES, what are the time limits? No set limit; it depends on the case. There will typically be a limit but the specific amount of time will vary. Most cases will not involve an opening statement of more than 45 minutes per lawyer.
Can exhibits be used in opening statements? Yes
Do you allow plaintiffs to make a rebuttal during opening statements? No
Do you permit jurors to
take notes? Yes
ask questions? Yes
If YES, under what constraints and restrictions? They write down the questions, which are then passed to me and I will determine whether the questions should be asked. I will advised the jurors before trial begins that I may reject many of their questions and that they should not be troubled or offended if this happens.
What, if any, procedures do you have concerning objections at trial? The standard procedures: Attorneys must stand and succinctly state a legal basis for the objection. No speaking objections are permitted.
When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions? The deadlines are outlined in the trial scheduling order.
Should jury instructions also be submitted to chambers electronically? Yes
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? The deadlines are outlined in the trial scheduling order.
Should the proposed findings and conclusions also be submitted to chambers electronically? Yes
Comments: They should be submitted in "word" format
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”? Lawyers who do not follow the rules (i.e., the federal rules and the local rules) are covered by the "pet peeve" category. In addition, lawyers who write in "purple prose" and use insulting, offensive, nasty and vitriolic language in their motions and memoranda are also eligible for the "pet peeve" category.
Do you have any other practice pointers, advice, observations, or suggestions for members of the Bar appearing before you? Counsel should not file any motion unless they actually followed the pre-filing conference requirement of the Local Rule. That means the lawyers need to have an actual conversation, either in person or on the phone. Exchanging snippy emails is insufficient to satisfy the requirement. Sending an email late in the afternoon and demanding a response by the following morning does not satisfy the pre-filing conference requirement. After the conference has taken place, please remember to include the requisite certification in the motion (or attached to it).
Links to your court's webpage with information about your practices or other links you recommend for practitioners:
Sample orders (please include a sample of any scheduling orders), biography, etc.