William Henry Stafford
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:
111 North Adams Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301
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?
Angie Maxwell, 850-521-3516
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.
In addition to Local Rules or CM/ECF procedures applicable in the District:
Do you prefer that (non-trial) exhibits be filed as separate docket entries (instead of filing them as attachments to the document they support)?
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?
Do you prefer that (non-trial) exhibits and depositions be filed conventionally as well as on CM/ECF?
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?
Should proposed orders be submitted in a format which can be edited, or is a PDF version acceptable?
Format that can be edited
Pretrial Procedure (Criminal)
If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during a preliminary pretrial conference?
Current docket is civil cases.
Do you conduct hearings on pretrial motions to dismiss or to sever?
Pretrial Procedure (Civil)
Do you issue a standard pretrial order?
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 hear preliminary injunction motions?
If NO, do you routinely refer preliminary injunctions for report and recommendation by a Magistrate Judge?
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?
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?
When the need arises, telephonic hearings are held.
What is your practice concerning oral arguments on referred dispositive motions?
Only upon request and when deemed necessary.
Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial?
If YES, how far in advance should they be filed?
No set time, but as soon as 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?
What is your preference regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration or mediation?
Mediation is encouraged.
Do you require counsel to submit a proposed order referring the case to mediation?
Do you have a procedure for counsel to request referral to a Magistrate Judge for settlement conferences?
Do you have any special procedures for the settlement of FLSA cases?
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?
As to a certain week, not necessarily a day 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)?
Keep counsel apprised, so that counsel, parties and witnesses do not waste time "idling" for trial to begin.
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?
Each case is scheduled, as required.
Do you conduct pretrial conferences?
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?
They are encouraged if they are clean, accurate and helpful to the jury.
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?
Do you have any requirements for trial briefs?
Do you permit counsel to perform voir dire?
If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?
Counsel may ask questions not already covered by the court.
If NO, can counsel submit proposed voir dire questions?
If YES, when should such questions be submitted?
With pretrial papers
What are your peremptory challenge procedures?
Alternate them w/party having burden of proof going first.
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?
I generally allow one extra for each additional party. In any event, I expect them to be exercised collectively.
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?
Just be reasonable.
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?
If YES, under what constraints and restrictions?
Notes cannot be removed from courtroom during trial. They can never be removed from jury deliberation room.
What, if any, procedures do you have concerning objections at trial?
"Objection" No argument, posturing or showboating for the jurors.
When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions?
Only if a "boilerplate" (standard) instructions does not address the issue.
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?
With pretrial papers.
Should the proposed findings and conclusions also be submitted to chambers electronically?
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"?
Act professionally at all times. You are an advocate for your client but also an officer for the court.
Do you have any other practice pointers, advice, observations, or suggestions for members of the Bar appearing before you?
Be prepared, be honest, be courteous to all, represent your client with integrity while dicharging your responsibility as an officer of the court. There will be other cases and other clients, but loss of your good name and reputation is terminal here.
Links to your court's webpage with information about your practices or other links you recommend for practitioners: