The Florida Bar

Judicial Practice Survey

William Donald Matthewman

Magistrate 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:

Southern District of Florida

Location of Chambers:

U.S. Courthouse, 701 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Assigned Courtroom:




Email address (only for proposed orders or jury instructions):

[email protected]

Chambers Staff

Judicial Assistant/Secretary:

Ken Zuniga



Courtroom Deputy:

Ken Zuniga



Law Clerk phone number(s), only if you permit law clerk(s) to receive calls:


Communication with Chambers


Please see further information on web site of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

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?

Phones should be silent in Court

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

Yes. Ken Zuniga, Courtroom Deputy, 561-803-3407

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.

CM/ECF Procedures

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)?

Counsel should move to strike the document and seek leave to refile a redacted or sealed version

Do you have a preferred method governing the filing of sealed documents?

Yes, file a motion in accordance with the local rules for the Court's consideration.

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?

Prefer to receive them both as attached PDF and via email in word format.

Should proposed orders be submitted in a format which can be edited, or is a PDF version acceptable?

Yes, word format.

Pretrial Detention/Pretrial Procedure (Criminal)

At bond hearings, do you permit the government to proceed by proffer or do you require a government agent to be present to testify?

I permit the government to proceed by proffer and require an agent in Court available to testify.

What criteria do you apply in determining whether to impose a financial assessment on a defendant for the services of appointed counsel?

Based upon available assets including all real and personal property.

If YES, do you have the same policy for defendants in custody and for defendants on bond?

Yes, unless excused by court order in advance.

Do you have any special procedures regarding plea agreements for individuals who are cooperating with the government, e.g., sealed plea agreements, etc.?



When Defendant does not speak English, plea agreement and any written factual proffer agreement must be read to Defendant in advance of change of plea hearing by certified court interpreter.

Pretrial Procedure (Civil)

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

Discovery, scheduling.

If YES, do you permit evidence to be introduced?


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


Should copies of unpublished opinions 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?


If YES, when is your normal hearing date/time?

Normally for quick scheduling matters or as appropriate under the circumstances.

Under what circumstances do you allow telephonic hearings?

I do not permit extensive or contentious hearings held by telephone.

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

Oral argument is often allowed if requested, and determined on a case by case basis.

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

As stated in the scheduling order.


If YES, what types of cases and what are the deadlines or procedures?

I enter an Order Setting Discovery Procedure in most cases which sets page limits, time limits, and requires personal conferral among counsel.


Phone calls to chambers during depositions should be done rarely and only after counsel have attempted to resolve the issue among themselves as professionals.


What is your preference regarding the use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration or mediation?

I prefer mediation and settlement conferences.

Do you have any special procedures for the settlement of FLSA cases?



Do you automatically set consent cases for trial or do you wait for counsel to propose a time period in which a case should be scheduled for trial?

I set the case for trial after holding a status conference with counsel to discuss scheduling and length of trial.

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

I always grant specially set trial dates so that the parties know that the case will proceed to trial on that date and can plan and prepare accordingly.

What, if any, procedural requirements do you have regarding the use of videotapes, trial graphics, depositions, and demonstrations?

Discuss in advance with opposing counsel in effort to reach agreement. Advise Courtroom Deputy well in advance so that all proper arrangments can be made.

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

Do not ask potential jurors to commit to any verdict in advance.

If YES, when should such questions be submitted?

Counsel can submit voir dire questions to the Court for the Court to consider asking in its general voir dire, and counsel will be allowed an opportunity to engage in attorney conducted voir dire as well.

Do you allow back striking during jury selection?


If YES, under what constraints and restrictions?

As per the applicabe rule.

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

No speaking objections. Be brief and to the point.

When do you require counsel to file proposed jury instructions?

As set by the Court.

General Advice

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"?

Do not interrupt other counsel or the Court. No personal attacks on opposing counsel.

Do you have any other practice pointers, advice, observations, or suggestions for members of the Bar appearing before you?

Be brief, to the point, prepared, honest and accurate.

Revised: 01-22-2018