Common Pleas Court Judges
Judge Steven E. Gall
Ronald O. Brown
Donna M. Thomas
Asst. Brunswick and Strongsville City Prosecutor, 1991-1987; Private practice of law, 1991-1999, Cuyahoga County Asst. Prosecuting Attorney, 1999-2012 (Major Trial Unit)
The objective of the Court is to ensure that parties have timely access to the judicial system. The Court takes a "hands on" approach and will make itself available to the parties to discuss settlement at the earliest opportunity. The Court endeavors to resolve cases within one year of filing, absent extraordinary circumstances.
Case management conferences are scheduled automatically 45 days after the filing date. Parties may appear by phone to avoid unnecessary travel or expense. Parties represented by counsel are not required to be present. Mediation and arbitration will be used at the Court's discretion in cases or upon request.
Hearings on Motions
The Court may hold hearings on motions upon request and at the Court's discretion.
Courtesy copies shall be delivered to the Court for all motions over 25 pages.
Upon filing of a motion for default judgment, the Court will schedule a default hearing. The movant must bring to the hearing the following: affidavit of damages, a prepared journal entry, and a copy of the letter sent regular and certified mail 7 days prior to the hearing date notifying all parties of the hearing and that failure to appear will result in judgment against them. The Court may require additional evidence/testimony that it deems necessary pursuant to Civ. R. 55.
The discovery schedule is set at the Case Management Conference (CMC) which is conducted by the Staff Attorney. The Court allows between 90 to 120 days for discovery depending on the complexity of the case. Any party who fails to participate in the CMC will be deemed to have accepted the scheduling order established by the Court. Extensions will be granted if timely and for good cause shown.
The parties shall make all efforts to resolve discovery disputes prior to filing a motion to compel. If those attempts are unsuccessful, the parties may contact the Court prior to filing a Motion to Compel to help timely resolve any issues. If your discovery dispute is resolved while the underlying motion to compel remains pending, please notify the Staff Attorney or file a motion to withdraw immediately.
The Court will schedule a final pre-trial to discuss settlement. Additional settlement conferences may be scheduled at any time upon request.
All parties and chosen representatives must be present or, with permission of the Court, be available by telephone with full settlement authority. If the real party in interest is an insurance company, corporation, common carrier, or other artificial legal entity, then the chosen representative must have full authority to negotiate the claim to the full extent of plaintiff's demand. Plaintiff's demand must be submitted to counsel for defendant at least 14 days prior to the final pretrial conference. (See Local Rule 21).
Calendaring and Continuances
Continuances and extensions may be granted for good cause shown. Extensions of Court-ordered deadlines may be requested by motion, preferably in the form of a joint or unopposed motion. Prior to filing a motion seeking an extension, please consult with your opposing counsel and state in your motion your opposing counsel's position on the extension request and potential continuance dates. The Court schedules final pre-trials on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 1:30 PM or 2:00 PM. The Court schedules trials on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:00 AM.
Parties may contact the Staff Attorney or Bailiff prior to the scheduled trial date to determine if the Court is already engaged in trial. If there is a conflict, the Court will discuss other options that are agreeable to the parties.
Motions in Limine
Motions in Limine must be filed 7 days prior to trial.
All parties are required to serve and file a trial brief which shall contain a statement of facts and legal issues, statement of real factual and legal issues in dispute, stipulations, list of non-expert trial witnesses with a brief summary of expected testimony, list of expert trial witnesses with reports attached, special legal problems anticipated, estimated length of trial, pretrial motions contemplated, special equipment needs for trial. (See Local Rule 21).
The parties shall exchange and mark all exhibits prior to the commencement of trial. (See Local Rule 22). Plaintiffs shall mark their exhibits using numbers; defendants shall mark their exhibits using letters.
Stipulated Statement of the Case
Parties shall prepare a stipulated statement of the case for the Court to read to the jury during its preliminary charge.
Jury Instructions, Interrogatories and Verdict Forms
Counsel for the various parties are required to confer with one another in person with respect to proposed jury instructions, interrogatories and verdict forms in an effort to reach an agreement on instructions to be requested. Proposed jury instructions shall be filed with the trial brief of the parties. The instructions agreed upon by all counsel shall be identified. Disputed instructions shall also be identified, along with separate citations to legal authority for each instruction. Parties are to submit the agreed upon instructions to the Staff Attorney in electronic form.