The Florida Bar

Judicial Practice Survey

Robert L Hinkle

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:

Northern District of Florida

Location of Chambers:

Tallahassee Division,


(850) 521-3601

Chambers Staff

Judicial Assistant/Secretary:

Judicial Assistant: Sherrye M. Stephens, Judicial Assistant


(850) 521-3601

Courtroom Deputy:

Scheduling Assistant: Elizabeth Lawrence


(850) 521-3501

Court Reporter:

Judy Nolton



Docket Clerk:

Pamela Lourcey, David Thomas, Kayla Bruner


(850) 521-3501

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

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

Elizabeth Lawrence

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.

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?

Preliminary pretrial conferences are conducted only in unusual circumstance. I conduct any such conferences myself.

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


What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?

Not ordinarily accepted.

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

The U.S. Attorney in this district does not enter such arrangements.

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?

Preliminary pretrial hearings are conducted if requested. All scheduling and case management issues may 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?

Considered in accordance with applicable law only if there is an appropriate reason for proceeding ex parte.

Do you hear preliminary injunction motions?


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


If copies of cases are submitted, do you accept copies that have portions highlighted by counsel?


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


Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings?

Whenever it would save time or effort and would not compromise quality. Telephone hearings are encouraged.

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

Allowed only in discretion of court. May be requested.

Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial?


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

Prior to pretrial conference if possible.


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?


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?



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


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

Demonstrated needed.

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

Trials are always scheduled well in advance. Only the placement within the trial period (usually 2 to 3 weeks) is subject to change.

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?

I reach all scheduled cases. Trials are conducted until all have been concluded.

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?

Depends on Circumstances. Any reasonable use is allowed.

If you require trial briefs, when are they due?

See standard order for pretrial conference.

Do you have any requirements for trial briefs?

See standard order for pretrial conference.

Do you permit counsel to perform voir dire?


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

In civil cases; only when there is demonstrated need in criminal cases.

If NO, can counsel submit proposed voir dire questions?


If YES, when should such questions be submitted?

Week in advance. Requests also can be made at sidebar at time of jury selection.

What are your peremptory challenge procedures?

Jurors are addressed one at a time, in order, with the two sides alternating which goes first. No back strikes.

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

Depends on circumstances.

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?


If YES, under what constraints and restrictions?

It never comes up.

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

No speaking objections. No responses unless requested.

When standard jury instructions are available, do you prefer that attorneys submit condensed versions of the standard instructions?


If YES, when do you require the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to be filed?

See standard order for pretrial conference.


Order Setting Pretrial Conference.pdf

Revised: 06-12-2018