The Florida Bar

Judicial Practice Survey

Thomas Patrick Barber

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.


Name of Court:

Middle District of Florida

Location of Chambers:

801 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602

Assigned Courtroom:




Email address (only for proposed orders or jury instructions):

[email protected]

Chambers Staff

Courtroom Deputy:

Sonya Cohn



Email address:

[email protected]

Court Reporter:

Rebekah Lockwood



Email Address:

[email protected]

Docket Clerk:

Docket Clerks are assigned according to judge and case number



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

Amanda Laber: 813-301-6153; Kelly Bittick: 813-301-6154

Communication with Chambers

Do you permit contact with chambers regarding questions of procedure?


Do you permit contact with chambers regarding the status of pending matters?


May counsel contact chambers to speak with your law clerks(s) on procedural matters?


May counsel contact chambers to speak with your law clerks(s) on the status of pending matters?


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 additional procedures.

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

Sonya Cohn, Courtroom Deputy

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, follow Clerk's Office procedures

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

No, follow Local Rules and Clerk's Office procedures

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


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?

send to chambers email: [email protected]

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

Send in Word format.

Pretrial Procedure (Criminal)

Do you conduct preliminary pretrial conferences in criminal cases?


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

Status conferences are conducted and will address: length of trial, exhibits, witnesses, pending motions, and possibility of plea.

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


Do you conduct suppression hearings or do you refer them to a Magistrate Judge?

Generally conduct

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


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

Generally refer plea hearings to 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?

Time constraints or unusual circumstances

Do you have a regular plea deadline?


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


What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?

case by case basis

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?

Acceptable and encouraged, but not binding on the court.

Pretrial Procedure (Civil)

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


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?


Other than as required by Local Rules, do you prefer that the moving parties submit proposed orders along with non-dispositive motions?


Do you have any requirements, beyond those found in the Federal Rules and the Local Rules, as to ex parte temporary restraining orders?


Do you hear preliminary injunction motions?


If YES, do you permit evidence to be introduced?


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


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


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


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

Wednesday afternoon

Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings?

only as needed - highly discouraged

What is your practice concerning oral arguments on referred dispositive motions?

Defer to referral judge

Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial?


If YES, how far in advance should they be filed?

At least one week


re: Motions in Limine - The court will entertain motions in limine where a pretrial ruling on a specific evidentiary issue is truly necessary and useful. It is not necessary for the parties to anticipate every conceivable evidentiary objection that may arise in a case and then make those objections the subject of a motion in limine. General motions that essentially seek a pretrial ruling affirming the parties’ duties to follow existing law and the rules of evidence will be summarily denied.


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.)?


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

FLSA, ADA, FCRA, TCPA, FDCPA & ERISA cases. Separate scheduling orders are filed.

Do you routinely refer discovery matters to a Magistrate Judge?


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?



Defer to Magistrate's procedures.


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

Almost all cases are referred to mediation prior to trial.

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



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?

Counsel proposes trial term in Case Management Report and can further address at Pretrial Conference.

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


If YES, under what circumstances will you grant trial dates certain?

On a limited basis. Criminal cases generally have priority over civil cases.

If NO, what is your policy regarding notice for trial during a trial docket (e.g., will you give at least 48 hours' notice)?

Will give notice.

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?

Yes, will be automatically rescheduled to next trial term.

Do you conduct pretrial conferences?


What, if any, procedural requirements do you have regarding the use of videotapes, trial graphics, depositions, and demonstrations?

Generally permitted, but elaborate and lengthy presentations are highly discouraged. Contact Courtroom Deputy for instructions.

Do you require trial briefs in jury trials?


Do you require trial briefs in bench trials?


Do you permit counsel to perform voir dire?


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

Time limits will be imposed. Counsel should not argue their case, instruct the venire on the law, or be repetitive.

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

Sometimes each party may be granted 3 peremptory challenges. Court will address on a case-by-case basis.

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?

Will be established after discussion with counsel.

Can exhibits be used in opening statements?


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


Do you permit jurors to take notes?


Do you permit jurors to ask questions?


When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions?

Civil cases: One week before pretrial conference. Criminal cases: At pretrial conference.

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?


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?

Approximately 30 days after trial concluded.

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



Do you require sentencing memos from the parties?


If NO, may parties file a sentencing memo?


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

Yes - if hearing is anticipated to take longer than 30 minutes.

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

Yes, notice will be provided.

General Advice

Do you have any other practice pointers, advice, observations, or suggestions for members of the Bar appearing before you?

Less is more. The best lawyers are concise. Review Local Rule 1.08 regarding format.


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

Revised: 07-08-2020