The Judges of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch, will consider amending Local Domestic Court Rules 3 and 4 at their meeting on January 25, 2010. Existing Domestic Court Rules 3 and 4 will be repealed and replaced by the rules set forth below. Comments may be submitted by January 21, 2010, to Don Martin, Deputy Court Director, 373 South High Street, Third Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215, or by e-mail at Don_Martin@Fccourts.org.
RULE 3 CASE MANAGEMENT
(A) Statement of Purpose
Pursuant to Rule 5(B)(1) of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio, this rule is promulgated to establish a domestic relations case management system which will provide for the prompt, fair, and timely disposal of all cases and motions before the court.
When litigation is filed in this Court, it is important that the Court supervise the progress of all cases from filing to termination in a process that is fundamentally fair, but not too deliberate or too hasty. Within the bounds of applicable constitutional provisions, statutes, case law, and rules governing the courts of Ohio, the Court shall manage the sequence of events in litigation to insure the timely disposition of all matters by trial, submission for decision on legal arguments, negotiated settlement, arbitration, mediation, or other means of appropriate dispute resolution.
It is therefore incumbent upon the judges/magistrates to articulate orders in each case for the uniform enforcement of procedural requirements, other rules, and time deadlines applicable in any particular case or type of case. Counsel in each case has a corresponding duty to know these rules and meet these deadlines and to inform the Court of extraordinary circumstances, which would cause the standard deadlines to work a substantive injustice to their clients. In order to comply with the Case Schedule it will be necessary for attorneys and parties to pursue their cases vigorously from the day the cases are filed.
(B) Case flow Management
The deadlines set by the Ohio Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Common Pleas Domestic Division shall be construed as maximums and shall not preclude the more rapid resolution of cases under these rules. Cases should be resolved within the absolute time limits as set by the Ohio Rules of Superintendence for the Court of Common Pleas Domestic Divisions.
(C) Case Schedules
When an Answer is filed in a Divorce proceeding, the Clerk of Courts shall prepare and file a paper entitled "Case Schedule." The Clerk shall serve a copy of the Case Schedule on all named parties.
(D) Service on Additional Parties upon Joinder or appointment of Guardian ad Litem
A party who joins an additional party(s)or requests and is granted the appointment of a Guardian ad litem shall be responsible for serving the additional party(s) with the current Case Schedule.
(E) Case Management hearing/Amended Case Schedule
1. The Trial Judge, either on motion of a party or sua sponte, may modify any date in the Case Schedule for good cause and on terms as are just, except that the trial date may not be changed to a date beyond the deadlines set by the Ohio Rules of Superintendence for Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Division. A modification may extend or reduce the time for any event or the entire track. If the Case Schedule is modified upon the motion of a party, that party shall prepare an amended case schedule and present it to the Trial Judge for signature. The amended case schedule shall be promptly filed and served on all other parties. If the Case Schedule is modified on the Trial Judge’s own motion, the Court shall prepare, file and promptly serve the “Amended Case Schedule” to all parties.
2. When a case is stayed, the original case schedule shall be stayed. When the stay is lifted, trial counsel shall schedule a case management hearing and submit a proposed amended case schedule extending the deadlines by the length of the stay and the final trial date shall be determined by the Court.
3. Time Limits
CLERK’S ORIGINAL CASE SCHEDULE
(Divorce without children)
INITIAL JOINT DISCLOSURE OF LAY WITNESSES 45 Days
INITIAL PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE 60 Days
INITIAL JOINT DISCLOSURE OF EXPERT WITNESS 75 Days
CASE MANAGEMENT/MOTION HEARING 80 Days
FINAL JOINT DISCLOSURE OF ALL WITNESSES 110 Days
REBUTAL DISCOVERY CUT OFF 120 Days
SECOND PRETRIAL AND DISPOSITIVE MOTION CUT OFF 130 Days
DISPOSITIVE MOTION HEARING DATE 150 Days
DECISIONS ON MOTIONS 170 Days
Initial Exchange of Trial Exhibits 175 Days
Supplemental Trial Exhibits Exchanged 200 Days
FINAL SETTLEMENT/STATUS CONFERENCE 210 Days
TRIAL ASSIGNMENT 230 Days
CLERK’S ORIGINAL CASE SCHEDULE
(Divorce with children)
INITIAL PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE 60 Days
INITIAL JOINT DISCLOSURE OF LAY WITNESSES 60 Days
INITIAL JOINT DISCLOSURE OF EXPERT WITNESS 90 Days
CASE MANAGEMENT/MOTION HEARING 100 Days
FINAL JOINT DISCLOSURE OF WITNESSES 120 Days
FINAL DISCLOSURE OF ALL WITNESSES 150 Days
REBUTAL DISCOVERY CUT OFF 195 Days
SECOND PRE-TRIAL AND DISPOSITIVE MOTION CUT-OFF 200 Days
DISPOSITIVE MOTION HEARING 214 Days
(and confirmation of final trial date)
DECISIONS ON MOTIONS 228 Days
Initial Exchange of Trial Exhibits 240 Days
Supplemental Trial Exhibits Exchanged 250 Days
FINAL SETTLEMENT/STATUS CONFERENCE 260 Days
TRIAL ASSIGNMENT 290 Days
The parties must strictly adhere to the requirements of this Case Management Schedule unless modified by the Court or written agreement of the parties. No continuance of any scheduled Case Management proceeding/hearing will be granted without prior approval by the Court.
The parties may mutually schedule an uncontested hearing date at any time prior to the final hearing date. Additional pre-trial(s)/status conference(s) may be scheduled by either or both parties as needed. Any party filing a motion requesting or requiring a hearing date other than those set forth above is required to contact all parties or their counsel and obtain an agreed date for said hearing. Otherwise, the Motion will be set for hearing on the next date set forth in this Scheduling Order.
The attached Order schedules dates on which you are to provide certain information to the other party involved in this court action.
If you do not do what the order requires, you can be held in contempt of court. Failure to comply with this Order may result in:
1. The Court may rule against you about the issues raised in the pending matter. Among other things the court can order any or all of the following:
a) Designate that certain facts be established in accord with the opposing side’s claim.
b) Refuse to allow you to support or oppose claims or defenses, and prohibit you from introducing matters into evidence;
c) Strike your pleadings, stay proceedings, dismiss the action, or render a default judgment against you;
d) Order you to pay reasonable expenses, including attorney fees, for the opposing side.
2. The Court may actually begin proceedings against you for contempt in violating this order.
The potential sentence(s) that may be imposed on you if it is found that you in contempt of Court are:
a) First offense: $250.00 fine and/or thirty (30) days in jail
b) Second offense: $500.00 fine and/or sixty (60) days in jail.
c) Third offense: $1,000 fine and/or ninety (90) days in jail.
If you are found in contempt for failure to perform an act required by law, and which the court finds you can yet perform, you may be imprisoned until you perform the act. (ORC §2705.06)
For any party pursuing attorney fees, Counsel are expected to provide all relevant evidence and evidence demonstrating the date upon which settlement proposals were submitted to opposing counsel.
(F) Dispositive Motions
All motions, including but not limited to summary judgment, judgment on the pleadings, and to dismiss, which seek to determine the merits of any claim or defense as to any or all parties shall be considered a dispositive motion. A voluntary dismissal under Civ. R. 41 is not a dispositive motion. All dispositive motions shall be filed no later than the date specified in the Case Schedule. Pursuant to Civ. R. 56(A), leave is hereby granted in all domestic cases to file summary judgment motions between the time of filing and the dispositive motion date, unless the Trial Judge decides otherwise by setting a different date. Counsel shall file their summary judgment motions at the earliest practical date in the course of litigation
For purposes of these local rules, the Trial Judge shall have the power, coextensive with the inherent powers of the Court and the enumerated powers in the Revised Code and the Civil Rules, to impose sanctions on attorneys, parties, or both. Sanctions can be monetary, non-monetary, or a combination of monetary and non-monetary. No sanction shall be imposed without the offending party and/or attorney being given an opportunity to be heard, unless the conduct giving rise to the sanction amounts to a direct contempt.
i. "Monetary Sanction" means a monetary cost imposed upon a party and/or an attorney by the Trial Judge for violation of the local rules and/or a case schedule and/or the Civil Rules. "Monetary sanction" includes, but is not limited to, a specific dollar amount payable to another party or parties or to the Court, actual costs of discovery, extra attorney's fees incurred, court costs, or other liquidated sum.
ii. "Non-monetary sanction" means a legal ruling contrary to the interest of a party and/or an attorney imposed by the Trial Judge for violation of the local rule and/or a case schedule and/or the Civil Rules. "Non-monetary sanction" includes, but is not limited to, dismissal with or without prejudice of the case or any claim or counterclaim, or any part of the case or claim, default judgment, exclusion of evidence, issues, or testimony, an order that certain issues or facts be taken as established for the balance of the case, an order striking pleadings or parts of pleadings, and a stay pending compliance with a court order.
(H) Enforcement and Monitoring
The Trial Judge, upon motion of a party or sua sponte, may impose sanctions for failure to comply with the local rules and/or a case schedule and/or the Civil Rules. If the Trial Judge finds that a party or attorney has failed to comply with the local rules and/or a case schedule and/or the Civil Rules without reasonable excuse or legal justification, the Trial Judge may impose sanctions proportional to the extent or frequency of the violation(s). The Trial Judge and bailiff will monitor cases on an ongoing basis to determine compliance with the case schedule and these local rules.
(Amended, eff 7/1/85, eff 8/2/90, eff 7/1/93, 7/1/99; 8/1/04; 1/25/10)
(A) MAGISTRATE STATUS CONFERENCE
Upon request of either party or the magistrate, the assigned magistrate may conduct a status conference in actions for divorce, legal separation, and annulment. The status conference shall be scheduled as directed by the magistrate, and the requesting party shall give notice of the status conference to the opposing party. At the status conference the parties shall attempt to reach an amicable settlement of all issues in controversy, and in the event settlement is not possible, to expedite proceedings in the action. At the status conference attorneys and parties shall be prepared to:
1. Narrow the legal issues in controversy;
2. Select court appointed experts and/or Guardian ad Litem;
3. Advise the Court of the time needed to submit affidavits in support of temporary orders;
4. Determine whether a referral to Family Assessment or Mediation Services is necessary for mediation or a home investigation.
After the status conference the magistrate may issue a status conference order or other scheduling order.
(B) PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES
(1) Initial pre-trial conference
An initial pre-trial conference shall be conducted at the date and time appearing in the Case Schedule or the Trial Judge orders otherwise. It shall be the duty of all counsel and parties to attend the initial pretrial conference fully prepared and authorized to enter into binding pre-trial orders and to begin negotiation toward settlement of the case. Failure to be prepared may result in dismissal of the case for want of prosecution, default judgment, or other sanctions as the Trial Judge deems appropriate. At the initial pretrial conference the discussion should include, but not be limited to:
i. Joinder of parties;
ii. Third party practice;
iii. Amendment of the pleadings;
iv. Issues concerning jurisdiction and venue;
v. Service of process;
vi. Default judgment; Motions under Civil Rules 12, 56, and 75(B);
vii. The need for a Guardian ad Litem;
viii. The need for alteration of the schedule of events on the track;
ix. Use of arbitration, mediation, or other means of dispute resolution; and
The Trial Judge at the request of any party shall, prepare or cause to be prepared, a written order reciting the action taken at the initial pre-trial conference, which shall be field and served on all counsel. Changes in the Case Schedule shall be accomplished pursuant to Local Rule 3(E).
(2) Second Pre-Trial Conference
No later than seven days prior to the second pre-trial conference, each party shall file and serve upon opposing counsel or pro se party, a completed pretrial statement affidavit as promulgated by the Court. Failure to file and serve a completed statement/affidavit may result in sanctions which shall be within the discretion of the Judge.
At the second pre-trial conference, the Judge may issue pre-trial orders. If either counsel or pro se party believes pre-trial orders are necessary they shall prepare and submit a pre-trial order to the judge at the time of the pre-trial conference.
(C) ATTENDANCE AT STATUS OR PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES
All counsel of record, including the Guardian ad Litem, and all parties except minor children, if within the jurisdiction of the Court, shall be present at any status or pre-trial conference, unless excused in advance by the Judge or Magistrate presiding over said conference. If a party is not within the jurisdiction of the court or has been excused by the court, that party shall provide his/her attorney with the telephone number at which (s)he may be reached during the conference. Counsel attending a conference must have complete authority to discuss and settle, if possible, all issues involved in the case, and to enter into stipulations regarding unresolved issues.
Failure of an attorney to be prepared for a status or pre-trial conference, and failure of a party or attorney to appear, or to cooperate in good faith in the conduct of the conference, may result in dismissal of the pleadings of the defaulting party and may subject said attorney or party to any sanctions provided in Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 37(D), including an award of expenses and/or attorney fees to any party prejudiced by such conduct.
Any agreement reached shall be immediately reduced to writing, signed by both parties and their counsel and shall be filed with the Court and shall be binding on all parties in any subsequent hearing.
(D) Disclosure of Witnesses
i. Initial Joint Disclosure of Lay/Expert Witnesses
Each party shall not later than the date for disclosure designated in the Case Schedule, serve on all parties and file with the Court a written disclosure of all persons with relevant factual or expert knowledge whom the party reserves the option to call as witnesses at trial.
ii. Supplemental Joint Disclosure of All witnesses.
Each party shall, no later than the date for disclosure in the Case Schedule, serve on all parties and file with the court a written disclosure of all persons whose factual or expert knowledge did not appear relevant until the witnesses were initially disclosed whom the party reserves the option to call as witnesses at trial.
iii. Scope of Disclosure.
Disclosure of witnesses under this rule shall include the following information:
a) All Witnesses. Name, addresses, and business phone number (or home phone number if no business number is available).
Lay Witnesses. A brief description of witnesses’ relevant knowledge.
Experts. A brief description of the expert’s qualifications and summary of the
expert’s opinions and the basis or theory of that opinion.
(E) Exclusion of Testimony
Any witnesses not disclosed in compliance with this rule may not be called to testify at trial, unless the Trail Judge orders otherwise for good cause and subject to such conditions as justice requires.
(F) DISCOVERY CUTOFF
The discovery cutoff date specified in the Case Schedule shall be the last date for any party to seek the involvement of the Trial Judge in the discovery process by way of motion seeking a ruling, an order, sanctions, or other Court action, absent extraordinary circumstances. Voluntary, mutually agreed-upon discovery, including perpetuation of trial testimony by video tape or otherwise, may continue after the discovery cutoff in a manner that does not delay any other event on the case schedule.
(G) ASSIGNMENT AND SCHEDULING OF TRIALS AND MOTIONS
It is the intent of the Court that cases are to be resolved within the time guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court of Ohio.
To comply with 3125.58 of the Ohio Revised Code all actions for support for a child or spouse shall be docketed and heard so that the time limits set forth in 3125.58 of the Ohio Revised Code can be met and priority shall be given to such cases for this purpose.
(2) Uncontested Hearings: All uncontested actions for divorce, legal separation or annulment shall be assigned for trial by the Assignment Commissioner upon the request of the party or attorney for the party, but pursuant to Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure 75(K) may not be heard and decided until the expiration of 42 days after service.
In all proceedings which are uncontested due to the Defendant’s failure to file an answer, Plaintiff shall submit a proposed judgment entry together with findings of fact if statutorily required to the Court at the time of trial.
(3) Dissolutions: Pursuant to O.R.C.3105.64, petitions for dissolution of marriage shall be scheduled for hearing not less than thirty days nor more than ninety days after the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.
(4) Motions: Motions for temporary orders shall proceed in accordance with Local Rule 13(A) and (B). All other motions shall proceed in accordance with Local Rule 13(C) and (D).
(5) Mediation: Mediation shall proceed as provided in Local Rule 22.
(H) CONTINUANCES OR ADVANCEMENT
All motions for continuance or advancement must be on a form promulgated by the court and must:
1. State the reason for the request, and if the request is being made due to a conflict with another case, contain the name, case number, type of case (civil or criminal), name of the Judge and county where the case is scheduled, and the date and time the case is assigned for trial. A copy of the scheduling notice should be attached to the request;
2. Contain the filing date of the case or pending motion;
3. State the number of times the case or motion has been continued;
4. Reflect the approval of opposing counsel or pro se party unless otherwise excused by the judge or magistrate. If the opposing counsel or pro se party does not consent to the continuance a conference shall be scheduled with the assigned judge or magistrate to resolve the continuance motion. No case may be continued by agreement of counsel or the parties without permission of the assigned judge or magistrate.
(I) FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
A party requesting findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Ohio Civil Rule 52, Ohio Civil Rule 53(E)(2) or Ohio Juvenile Rule 40(E)(2) shall serve a copy of the request on the opposing party and deliver a copy of the request to the judge or magistrate to whom the request is directed. If findings of fact and conclusions of law are requested by a party, the judge or magistrate to whom the request is directed may order the parties to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the proceedings. Upon being so ordered, if a party who requested findings of fact and conclusions of law fails to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law as ordered, the judge or magistrate may deem the request for findings of fact and conclusions of law to be waived and enter a decision and entry accordingly, as if no request for findings of fact and conclusions of law was made.
(J) WITHDRAWAL OF TRIAL ATTORNEY
An attorney requesting to withdraw from representation of a client shall file a motion to withdraw stating the reasons for withdrawal. The motion shall include the last current address of the client and certification that the following have occurred:
a. notice has been given to the client advising the client of all orders and all upcoming assignment dates affecting the client;
b. notice has been given to all counsel, or if unrepresented, to the parties.
The attorney shall serve the motion to withdraw from representation on the client and all parties or their counsel.
No attorney shall be permitted to withdraw from a case later than 20 days prior to hearing except for extraordinary circumstances. If a case is scheduled for hearing before a magistrate, the request to withdraw should be approved by the assigned magistrate prior to being submitted to the assigned judge.
(Amended, eff 7/1/85, eff 8/2/90, eff 7/1/93, 7/1/99; 8/1/04; 1/25/10)