Common Pleas Court Judges
Judge Nancy A. Fuerst
Vermell Y. Harden
Clare B. Gravens
General practice of law (1989-96); Law Clerk (Federal Magistrate) U. S. District Court (1988-89), Clerk Extern, 8th District Court of Appeals, (1988).
Initial case management conference (cmc) is automatically scheduled about 6 weeks from filing to allow for service; cmc is conducted by phone; plaintiff counsel usually required to initiate conference call; discussion about issues and nature of pending case will determine subsequent scheduling order; parties may advance a hearing by contacting the court through the staff attorney or bailiff for an available time and date; petitions for civil stalking protection orders (cspo), motions for temporary restraining orders (tro), for preliminary injunctions (pi), to compel or for admission pro hac vice will be promptly scheduled or addressed upon filing.
First pretrial or early case management (ecm) hearing is automatically set in the arraignment room; at first pretrial or ecm, case schedule will be set with counsel present; motion for trial continuance should be requested in writing in advance of the trial date and with notification to the opposing party; defendant is required to appear at every court hearing unless otherwise ordered.
Court prefers to conduct early stage pretrials by phone to avoid unnecessary travel or expense to the respective parties; as case proceeds, in person hearings will be scheduled as needed; parties are encouraged to be prepared to discuss case status and cooperate in arranging the conference call; pretrial briefs are not required unless requested by the court.
Parties are encouraged to vigorously conduct discovery and if appropriate, engage in plea negotiations in good faith.
Civil and criminal
Motions are e-filed and appear on the court’s filing queue; court should be provided a courtesy copy of any civil or criminal motion, or any response thereto, more than 20 pages in length; parties are reminded to timely file and respond to all motions in accordance with the criminal and civil rules.
Motion for default judgment
May be filed after service has been perfected and defendant has failed to answer or otherwise appear; plaintiff is to serve the motion on defendant, and provide the court with an original affidavit of damages and proposed default judgment entry.
Parties are encouraged to work amicably and professionally to complete discovery; in the event a discovery dispute arises, parties may contact the staff attorney or bailiff to seek guidance from the court or may file a motion.
At an appropriate time during the pendency of the case, the court may schedule a settlement conference to explore the possibility of early resolution; all parties with full settlement authority are required to be present unless, with prior court approval, are permitted to appear by phone.
Alternate dispute resolution in the form of court sponsored arbitration or mediation may be ordered for appropriate cases; see local rules 21.2 and 29.0.
Calendaring and Continuances
To ensure predictability and timely resolution, the court aims to set realistic and workable schedules based upon the particular facts and circumstances of each case; criminal and civil motions for continuance should be timely made, in writing, with requested relief, after notification to the opposing party; motions for continuance will be promptly considered by the court.
Trial briefs, witness lists, proposed jury instructions, motions in limine, requests for rulings on deposition objections and stipulations should be filed 7 days before trial with a courtesy copy delivered to the court; in both civil and criminal jury trials, voir dire is conducted by court and counsel; jurors are permitted to take written notes and submit written questions to witnesses; jurors are provided with a written copy of the jury instruction during deliberations; if helpful, parties are encouraged to use audio-visual equipment to assist the jury.
Trial briefs, witness lists and motions in limine should be filed 7 days before trial; proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law are to be submitted in conformance with court order at the conclusion of a bench trial or hearing.