Patricia Ann Seitz
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:
400 North Miami Avenue, Courtroom 11-4, Miami, Fl 33128
Email address (only for proposed orders or jury instructions):
Law Clerk phone number(s), only if you permit law clerk(s) to receive calls:
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
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?
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?
If exhibits are lengthy, counsel is asked to provide a courtesy copy to 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?
Should proposed orders be submitted in a format which can be edited, or is a PDF version acceptable?
in WordPerfect or Word
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?
See Criminal Pretrial Conference Checklist.
Do you require the defendant to be present at status conferences?
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?
All motions requiring evidentiary hearings are referred to the Magistrate Judge.
Do you conduct hearings on pretrial motions to dismiss or to sever?
Do you take the plea or do you regularly refer plea hearings to a Magistrate Judge?
I take the plea.
Do you have a regular plea deadline?
What is your policy concerning nolo contendere or Alford pleas?
Will accept an Alford plea if the Government agrees.
What is your policy as to plea agreements that involve sentencing recommendations?
Advise the defendant that the recommendation is not binding on the Court or U.S. Probation.
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?
If YES, what matters do you typically discuss during preliminary pretrial hearings?
Pending motions, case management plans, and any special issues noted in parties' Joint Scheduling Report. See Order Requiring Joint Scheduling Report - Standard.
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 have any requirements, beyond those found in the Federal Rules and the Local Rules, as to ex parte temporary restraining orders?
Ex parte hearings disfavored.
Do you hear preliminary injunction motions?
If YES, do you permit evidence to be introduced?
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?
If YES, when is your normal hearing date/time?
8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. daily as scheduled by the Court.
Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings?
When video conference is not available, a short hearing, and only one person is on the phone.
What is your practice concerning oral arguments on referred dispositive motions?
If it appears that (a) it is complex or (b) there are specific questions that need to be answered, the Court will schedule an oral argument and notify the parties of the issues to be addressed.
Will you entertain motions in limine prior to trial?
If YES, how far in advance should they be filed?
Motions in limine should be filed with the Pretrial Stipulation. Each motion and response should be no longer than one page. See Order Setting Trial Date.
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.)?
If YES, what types of cases and what are the deadlines or procedures?
See Order Requiring Joint Scheduling Report in FLSA Actions; Order Requiring Joint Scheduling Report in Fair Debt Collections Act Actions; and Order Requiring Joint Scheduling Report with Attached Requirement of Certificate of Counsel Regarding Any Prior Filings Under Americans With Disabilities Act
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 required in all civil cases.
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 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?
In criminal cases over three weeks long, or when there are special circumstances.
If NO, what is your policy regarding notice for trial during a trial docket (e.g., will you give at least 48 hours' notice)?
Advise the parties of their position on the trial docket at the calendar call. Therefore, notice can be as short as 24 hours.
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?
Try to find another judge to try case during trial calendar. If cannot, case rolls to next trial calendar.
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?
Need to advise other side prior to trial. On depositions to be used during trial, need to pre-designate pages. Parties must develop a stipulation as to the non-contested information in the deposition and read only those portions of the deposition relevant to the disputed issues in the case.
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?
If filed, should be very succinct, focused on key legal, factual or evidentiary points, and cite on point 11th Circuit case law.
Do you permit counsel to perform voir dire?
If YES, what guidelines or restrictions must counsel follow when conducting voir dire?
10 minutes per side to ask follow up questions (after the Court's voir dire and the jurors oral biographical responses to questions.) See instructions attached to Civil/Criminal Pretrial Conference Checklist.
If NO, can counsel submit proposed voir dire questions?
If YES, when should such questions be submitted?
Noon the Friday before the start of trial.
What are your peremptory challenge procedures?
No backstrikes except in diversity cases governed by Florida law.
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?
In civil cases, yes, unless parties have unity of interest.
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?
Within reason. The maximum time used to date has been 3 hours. Most opening statements are in the 15 to 35 minutes range.
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?
Will permit written questions in civil cases. Jurors put questions in writing, at the conclusion of the witness' testimony, the questions are collected and discussed at sidebar, and if not objectionable are posed to the witness.
What, if any, procedures do you have concerning objections at trial?
Must stand and cite the Federal Rule of Evidence. No speaking objections. Sidebars disfavored. If an evidentiary issue might require a sidebar, it must be brought to the Court's attention before the start of the trial, at the end of the trial day or at the lunch break to avoid breaks in the flow of evidence.
When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions?
Proposed joint instructions must be filed prior to the pretrial conference in civil cases. Final instructions are due noon the Friday before start of a Monday trial. Otherwise twenty-four hours before the start of trial. Government is responsible for preparing proposed instructions in criminal cases. Defendants are to provide ex parte any theory of defense instructions prior to trial.THE COURT INSTRUCTS THE JURY PRIOR TO CLOSING ARGUMENT AND PROVIDES EACH JUROR WITH A COPY OF THE INSTRUCTIONS AND VERDICT FORM AT THE TIME OF INSTRUCTION.
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?
Draft proposed factual findings and legal conclusions due at Pretrial Conference. Final proposed findings and conclusions are due at noon the Friday before start of trial (unless the case is complex, then I will provide the due dates at the pretrial conference.)
Should the proposed findings and conclusions also be submitted to chambers electronically?
Do you require sentencing memos from the parties?
If counsel anticipates a contested or extensive sentencing hearing, should counsel notify the court?
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?
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"?
Failure to consult with opposing counsel in a good faith effort to resolve the dispute prior to filing the motion; failure to read and/or follow orders, the Rules of Procedure, and the Local Rules; lack of professionalism / ad hominum attacks.
Do you have any other practice pointers, advice, observations, or suggestions for members of the Bar appearing before you?
Get to know your opposing counsel as a human being; treat them as you would like to be treated; be a problem solver; maintain perspective -- what is really important in life --if nobody died, it probably can be fixed.