The Florida Bar

Judicial Practice Survey

Susan Cawthon Bucklew

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:

Sam M. Gibbons Courthouse

Assigned Courtroom:

Courtroom 14A



Chambers Staff

Courtroom Deputy:

Anaida Vizza



Court Reporter:

Paul Spangler



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?


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?

I conduct status conferences once a month. Other matters include length of trial, outstanding motions, possibility of a plea, trial setting, anything attorneys wish to discuss.

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


What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?

Do not accept

What is your policy as to plea agreements that involve sentencing recommendations?

No policy.

Pretrial Procedure (Civil)

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?

Scheduling, answers to interrogatories, anything attorneys feel needs to be discussed.

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?

I follow the law and the rules.

Do you hear preliminary injunction motions?


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Should copies of unpublished cases cited in motions and memoranda be forwarded to chambers?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

When motions are heard, the time is usually between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Monday - Friday.

Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings?


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

Dispositive motions are not regularly set for oral argument. Oral arguments are the exception and not the rule.

Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial?


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

I usually set deadlines at the pre-trial conference


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.)?


Do you routinely refer discovery matters to a Magistrate Judge?



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?

I will grant a date certain, if it is a very long case or has unusual witness problems (i.e., witnesses out of the country).

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

No policy. We try to give as much notice as possible.

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?

Notify courtroom deputy of need to use video tapes, demonstrations, etc. Deposition designations should be filed prior to trial. Notify opposing counsel of proposed demonstration, graphics, etc.

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?

Adhere to the time they are given

If NO, can counsel submit proposed voir dire questions?


If YES, when should such questions be submitted?

Five days prior to jury selection.

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?

Depends on number of parties and number of jurors to be selected.

Do you allow back striking during jury selection?


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


Can exhibits be used in opening statements?


Do you permit jurors to take notes?


Do you permit jurors to ask questions?


What, if any, procedures do you have concerning objections at trial?

State evidentiary basis. If it is for one of the items listed in F, make the objection prior to trial.

When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions?

Five days prior to trial.

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?

Five days prior to trial.

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"?

1. Do style a motion "Emergency Motion" unless it really is;2. Comply with Local Rule 3.01(g);3. When filing a proposed order send it to the chambers e-mail account; notify chambers if case on trial calendar settles.



Revised: 07-30-2019