Robert N Scola Jr.
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:
Southern District of Florida
Location of Chambers:
Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Courthouse, 400 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33128
Email address (only for proposed orders or jury instructions):
Contact general court reporting section
Law Clerk phone number(s), only if you permit law clerk(s) to receive calls:
See "Comments" below for info
Communication with Chambers
For civil cases ending in -0, -1, and -2, call: 305-523-5141; in -3, -4, and -5, call: 305-523-5143; in -6, -7, -8; and -9 Call: 305-523-5142
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?
Is there a designated court staff person to contact relating to the use of electronic media or other audiovisual needs?
Jacob Hasbun, 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.
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)?
Do you have a preferred method governing the filing of sealed documents?
Follow CM/ECF Administrative Procedures, however, a courtesy copy does not need to be provided for chambers.
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?
email in MS Word format (.doc)
Should proposed orders be submitted in a format which can be edited, or is a PDF version acceptable?
email in MS Word format (.doc)
Pretrial Procedure (Criminal)
If YES, do you have the same policy for defendants in custody and for defendants on bond?
Do you conduct suppression hearings or do you refer them to a Magistrate Judge?
Time permitting, I conduct my own suppression hearings
Do you take the plea or do you regularly refer plea hearings to a Magistrate Judge?
Except for exceptional circumstances, I conduct plea hearings
If you regularly refer plea hearings to a Magistrate Judge, what circumstances would permit the parties to have a plea hearing before you?
What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?
would consider on a 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.?
sealed agreements are disfavored
What is your policy as to plea agreements that involve sentencing recommendations?
I routinely accept plea agreements with sentencing recommendations and I give serious consideration to the recommendations
Pretrial Procedure (Civil)
Do you have any requirements, beyond those found in the Federal Rules and the Local Rules, as to ex parte temporary restraining orders?
If YES, when is your normal hearing date/time?
Hearings are set in accordance with the court's trial schedule
Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings?
What is your practice concerning oral arguments on referred dispositive motions?
If I feel oral argument will assist the court in reaching the correct legal ruling, oral argument will be set by the court.
If YES, how far in advance should they be filed?
the time period is set forth in the scheduling order
If YES, what types of cases and what are the deadlines or procedures?
ERISA denial of benefits cases have a specialized track. FLSA and ADA cases are typically placed on an expedited track. The Court's Initial Order and Scheduling Order for these cases set forth the deadlines and procedures
What is your preference regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration or mediation?
mediation is mandatory in all civil matters
Do you have a procedure for counsel to request referral to a Magistrate Judge for settlement conferences?
Any request for referral will be honored.
Do you have any special procedures for the settlement of FLSA cases?
Counsel must submit a detailed explanation of the settlement and detail how the settlement funds are to be distributed between the plaintiff(s) and the attorney
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?
If NO, what is your policy regarding notice for trial during a trial docket (e.g., will you give at least 48 hours' notice)?
I will give counsel reasonable notice which may be one hour or one week notice depending on a variety of factors
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?
case will be reset during next trial docket unless the parties agree to a different trial period
What, if any, procedural requirements do you have regarding the use of videotapes, trial graphics, depositions, and demonstrations?
If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?
If YES, when should such questions be submitted?
set forth in Scheduling Order
What are your peremptory challenge procedures?
plaintiff announces first on all odd-numbered jurors and defendant announces first on all even-numbered jurors; challenges for cause will not be addressed until a particular juror is reached
If NO, do you limit each side (i.e., plaintiff/defense) to a total of three peremptory challenges to be shared?
Do you permit jurors to ask questions?
What, if any, procedures do you have concerning objections at trial?
No speaking objections
When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions?
Set forth in Scheduling Order
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?
Set forth in Scheduling Order
If NO, may parties file a sentencing memo?
If counsel anticipates a contested or extensive sentencing hearing, should counsel notify the court?
If the sentencing hearing is expected to last more than 30 minutes, which should be very rare, the court must be notified so that sufficient time is set aside
If you are considering an upward departure under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, do you provide notice orally or in writing?
In a proceeding for a violation of supervised release conditions, do you personally conduct the admissions/findings of fact hearing or do you refer this to a Magistrate Judge?
I personally conduct the admissions/findings of fact hearings
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"?
Answer the Court's questions, don't make speaking objections