United States District Court
For The Northern District of Illinois
Eastern Division

 


STANDING ORDER ESTABLISHING PRETRIAL PROCEDURE


(Adopted Pursuant to General Order of 26 June 1985; Amended Pursuant to General Orders of 27 November 1991 and 9 March 1995)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction

2. Scheduling Conference

3. Procedures for Complex or Protracted Discovery

4. Discovery Closing Date.

5. Settlement

6. Final Pretrial Order

7. Final Pretrial Conference

8. Extensions of Time for Final Pretrial Order or Conference

9. Action Following Final Pretrial Conference

10. Documents Promulgated with the Standing Order

1. Introduction

This pretrial procedure is intended to secure a just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of the issues. If the type of procedure described below does not appear calculated to achieve these ends in this case, counsel should seek an immediate conference with the judge and opposing counsel so that alternative possibilities may be discussed. Failure of either party to comply with the substance or the spirit of this Standing Order may result in dismissal of the action, default or other sanctions appropriate under Fed. R. Civ. P. 16 or 37, 28 U.S.C. 1927 or any other applicable provisions.

Parties should also be aware that there may be variances in the forms and procedures used by each of the judges in implementing these procedures. Accordingly, parties should contact the minute clerk for the assigned judge for a copy of any standing order of that judge modifying these procedures.

2. Scheduling Conference

Within 60 days after the appearance of a defendant and within 90 days after the complaint has been served on a defendant in each civil case (other than categories of cases excepted by local Civil Rule 16.1), the court will usually set a scheduling conference (ordinarily in the form of a status hearing) as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 16. At the conference, counsel should be fully prepared and have authority to discuss any questions regarding the case, including questions raised by the pleadings, jurisdiction, venue, pending motions, motions contemplated to be filed, the contemplated joinder of additional parties, the probable length of time needed for discovery and the possibility of settlement of the case. Counsel will have the opportunity to discuss any problems confronting them, including the need for time in which to prepare for trial.

3. Procedures for Complex or Protracted Discovery

If at any time during the scheduling conference or later status, hearings it appears that complex or protracted discovery will be sought, the court may

(a) determine that the Manual on Complex Litigation 2d be used as a guide for procedures to be followed in the case, or

(b) determine that discovery should proceed by phases, or

(c) require that the parties develop a joint written discovery plan under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 (f).

If the court elects to proceed with phased discovery, the first phase will address information necessary to evaluate the case, lay the foundation for a motion to dismiss or transfer, and explore settlement. At the end of the first phase, the court may require the parties to develop a joint written discovery plan under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 (f) and this Standing Order.

If the court requires parties to develop a discovery plan, such plan shall be as specific as possible concerning dates, time, and places discovery will be sought and as to the names of persons whose depositions will be taken. It shall also specify the parties' proposed discovery closing date. Once approved by the court, the plan may be amended only for good cause. Where the parties are unable to agree on a joint discovery plan, each shall submit a plan to the court. After reviewing the separate plans, the court may take such action as it deems appropriate to develop the plan.

Where appropriate, the court may also set deadlines for filing and a time framework for the disposition of motions.

4. Discovery Closing Date.

In cases subject to this Standing Order, the court will, at an appropriate point, set a discovery closing date. Except to the extent specified by the court on motion of either party, discovery must be completed before the discovery closing date. Discovery requested before the discovery closing date, but not scheduled for completion before the discovery closing date, does not comply with this order.

5. Settlement

Counsel and the parties are directed to undertake a good faith effort to settle that includes a thorough exploration of the prospects of settlement before undertaking the extensive labor of preparing the Order provided for in the next paragraph. The court may require that representatives of the parties with authority to bind them in settlement discussions be present or available by telephone during any settlement conference.

If the parties wish the court to participate in a settlement conference, counsel should ask the court or the minute clerk to schedule such conference. In a case where the trial will be conducted without a jury, particularly as the case nears the date set for trial, the preferred method of having the court preside over settlement talks is for the assigned judge to arrange for another judge to preside or to refer the task to a magistrate judge. If the case has not been settled and is placed on the court's trial calendar, settlement possibilities should continue to be explored throughout the period before trial. If the case is settled, counsel shall notify the minute clerk promptly and notice up the case for final order.

6. Final Pretrial Order

The court will schedule dates for submission of a proposed final pretrial order ( Order ) and final pretrial conference ( Conference ) in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 16. In the period between notice and the date for submission of the pretrial order:

(a) Counsel for all parties are directed to meet in order to (1) reach agreement on any possible stipulations narrowing the issues of law and fact, (2) deal with nonstipulated issues in the manner stated in this paragraph and (3) exchange copies of documents that will be offered in evidence at the trial. The court may direct that counsel meet in person (face-to-face). It shall be the duty of counsel for plaintiff to initiate that meeting and the duty of other counsel to respond to plaintiff's counsel and to offer their full cooperation and assistance to fulfill both the substance and spirit of this standing order. If, after reasonable effort, any party cannot obtain the cooperation of other counsel, it shall be his or her duty to advise the court of this fact by appropriate means.

(b) Counsel s meeting shall be held sufficiently in advance of the date of the scheduled Conference with the court so that counsel for each party can furnish all other counsel with a statement ( Statement ) of the issues the party will offer evidence to support. The Statement will (1) eliminate any issues that appear in the pleadings about which there is no controversy, and (2) include all issues of law as well as ultimate issues of fact from the standpoint of each party.

(c) It is the obligation of counsel for plaintiff to prepare from the Statement a draft Order for submission to opposing counsel. Included in plaintiff's obligation for preparation of the Order is submission of it to opposing counsel in ample time for revision and timely filing. Full cooperation and assistance of all other counsel are required for proper preparation of the Order to fulfill both the substance and spirit of this Standing Order. All counsel will jointly submit the original and one copy of the final draft of the Order to the judge's chambers (or in open court, if so directed) on the date fixed for submission.

(d) All instructions and footnotes contained within the Final Pretrial Order form promulgated with this Standing Order must be followed. They will be binding on the parties at trial in the same manner as though repeated in the Order. If any counsel believes that any of the instructions and/or footnotes allow for any part of the Order to be deferred until after the Order itself is filed, that counsel shall file a motion seeking leave of court for such deferral.

(e) Any pending motions requiring determination in advance of trial (including, without limitation, motions in limine, disputes over specific jury instructions or the admissibility of any evidence at trial upon which the parties desire to present authorities and argument to the court) shall be specifically called to the court's attention not later than the date of submission of the Order.

(f) Counsel must consider the following matters during their conference:

(1) Jurisdiction (if any question exists in this respect, it must be identified in the Order);

(2) Propriety of parties; correctness of identity of legal entities; necessity for appointment of guardian, administrator, executor or other fiduciary, and validity of appointment if already made; correctness of designation of party as partnership, corporation or individual d/b/a trade name; and

(3) Questions of misjoinder or nonjoinder of parties.

7. Final Pretrial Conference

At the Conference each party shall be represented by the attorneys who will try the case (unless before the conference the court grants permission for other counsel to attend in their place). All attending attorneys will familiarize themselves with the pretrial rules and will come to the Conference with full authority to accomplish the purposes of F.R.Civ.P. 16 (including simplifying the issues, expediting the trial and saving expense to litigants). Counsel shall be prepared to discuss settlement possibilities at the Conference without the necessity of obtaining confirmatory authorization from their clients. If a party represented by counsel desires to be present at the Conference, that party's counsel must notify the adverse parties at least one week in advance of the conference. If a party is not going to be present at the Conference, that party's counsel shall use their best efforts to provide that the client can be contacted if necessary. Where counsel represents a governmental body, the court may for good cause shown authorize that counsel to attend the Conference even if unable to enter into settlement without consultation with counsel s client.

8. Extensions of Time for Final Pretrial Order or Conference

It is essential that parties adhere to the scheduled dates for the Order and Conference, for the Conference date governs the case's priority for trial. Because of the scarcity of Conference dates, courtesy to counsel in other cases also mandates no late changes in scheduling. Accordingly, no extensions of the Order and Conference dates will be granted without good cause, and no request for extension should be made less than 14 days before the scheduled Conference.

9. Action Following Final Pretrial Conference

At the conclusion of the Conference the court will enter an appropriate order reflecting the action taken, and the case will be added to the civil trial calendar. Although no further pretrial conference will ordinarily be held thereafter, a final conference may be requested by any of the parties or ordered by the court prior to trial. Any case ready for trial will be subject to trial as specified by the court.

10. Documents Promulgated with the Standing Order

Appended to this Standing Order are the following:

(a) a form of final pretrial order;

(b) a form for use as Schedule (c), the schedule of exhibits for the final pretrial order;

(c) a form of pretrial memorandum to be attached to the completed final pretrial order in personal injury cases;

(d) a form of pretrial memorandum to be attached to the completed final pretrial order in employment discrimination cases; and

(e) guidelines for preparing proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Each of the forms is annotated to indicate the manner in which it is to be completed.

The above forms are available from the clerk's office.