The Florida Bar

Judicial Practice Survey

Richard Allan Lazzara

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 Avenue, Chambers 15B, Tampa, FL 33602

Assigned Courtroom:




Chambers Staff

Judicial Assistant/Secretary:

Sandra Hartman

Courtroom Deputy:

Rita J. Cole


(813) 301-5354

Docket Clerk:

N/A - The USMD Clerk's office in Tampa utilizes the terminal digit in determining who dockets a specific case.

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)

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

At status conference (which is essentially a pretrial) the possibility of plea is discussed, pending motions, readiness for trial, and the length and complexity of the case.

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


What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?

This court will not accept a nolo or Alford plea.

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

This court will consider, but not be bound by same.

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 and the Local Rules, as to ex parte temporary restraining orders?

TROs are treated as an emergency. Parties should deliver a courtesy copy to the judge at time of filing. Based on the submissions of the parties, the court will determine whether a hearing is appropriate and render its decision.

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Should copies of unpublished cases cited in motions and memoranda be forwarded to chambers?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


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

Oral arguments are set on an as-needed basis.

Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial?


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

3 days before the beginning of the trial term.


Do you routinely refer discovery matters to a Magistrate Judge?



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


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


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

Parties are provided a trailing calendar with counsel for the cases before provided. They are at liberty to check with counsel to see how their case is progressing and to consult with the Courtroom Deputy. Parties are generally provided in excess of 48 hours notice.

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?

Prior arrangements should be made with the Courtroom Deputy.

Do you require trial briefs in jury trials?


Do you require trial briefs in bench trials?


If you require trial briefs, when are they due?

Five days prior to the commencement of the trial term.

Do you have any requirements for trial briefs?

Trial briefs must conform to Local Rule 1.05.

Do you permit counsel to perform voir dire?


If NO, can counsel submit proposed voir dire questions?


If YES, when should such questions be submitted?

Five days prior to the commencement of the trial term, (beginning of the first full week of the month).

What are your peremptory challenge procedures?

I follow the Federal Rules of Civil/Criminal Procedure. I do allow backstriking.

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 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?

Reason for the objection shall be stated contemporaneously with the objection.

When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions?

Five days prior to the commencement of the trial term.

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 the commencement of the trial term.



Revised: 06-12-2018