Order setting case for non-jury


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NameOrder setting case for non-jury
A typeDocumentation
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT, FOURTH

JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR

NASSAU COUNTY, FLORIDA
CASE NO.:

DIVISION: A
IN RE: THE MARRIAGE/MATTER OF

_________________________________,

Petitioner,

and

_________________________________,

Respondent,

/
ORDER SETTING CASE FOR NON-JURY

TRIAL AND FOR PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE1

AND REQUIRING MATTERS TO BE COMPLETED PRIOR

TO PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE
It appearing that this cause is at issue and should be tried in the near future, it is therefore,

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED:


  1. TRIAL DATE. This cause is hereby set for a Non-Jury Trial on __________ beginning at _________ a.m. before the Honorable Steven M. Fahlgren, Circuit Judge, in Chambers, Robert M. Foster Justice Center, 76347 Veterans Way, 3 floor, Yulee, Florida 32097. Time allocated for trial is _______ hours.



  1. PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE DATE. A Pre-Trial Conference will be held in this matter on __________ at _________ a.m. before the Honorable Steven M. Fahlgren, Circuit Judge, in Chambers, Robert M. Foster Justice Center, 76347 Veterans Way, 3rdrd floor, Yulee, Florida 32097. Each party and all counsel shall comply with the Pre-Trial Procedures listed herein. The Pre-Trial Conference should be attended by an attorney who will participate in the Trial on the case, and all admissions and stipulations of fact made at those times shall be binding on the parties. Time allocated for the Pre-Trial Conference is _________ minutes. Counsel for the parties may appear by telephone at the Pre-Trial Conference, so long as the Joint Pre-Trial Statement has been filed with the Clerk of Court and provided to the Court by email at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the Pre-Trial Conference.

3. PARENTING EDUCATION CLASSES FOR PARENTS OF MINOR CHILDREN IN COMMON TO THE PARTIES. It has been found to be beneficial to parents who are separating or divorcing to attend an educational program that will provide general information regarding: (a) the issues and legal procedures for resolving custody and child support disputes; (b) the emotional experiences and problems of divorcing adults; (c) the family problems and emotional concerns and needs of the children; and (d) the availability of community services and resources. Accordingly, § 61.21, Florida Statutes (2011) requires that all parties to a dissolution of marriage proceeding with minor children or modification of a final judgment involving custody or time-sharing are required to attend a four-hour Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. A course that meets this requirement is the “Putting Children First” course (formerly known as the “Children First In Divorce” course) offered by Hope Haven Children’s Clinic, 4600 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207, 904-346-5100. In Nassau County, two of the approved providers of the similar qualified program, the Parent Education and Family Stabilization course, are Clearview Concepts and McPherson Counseling Services, Inc. Clearview Concepts is located at 1411 S. 14th St., Fernandina Beach, Florida 32097, and may be contacted at 904-335-0333. McPherson Counseling Services, Inc., is located at 850310 US HWY 17, Yulee, Florida 32097, and may be contacted at 904-548-0160. A Final Judgment may not be entered by the court until a certificate of completion is filed with the clerk. The Clerk of Court shall advise the parties of the requirements of this Order by providing a copy of court-approved instructions and a list of approved providers to the parties upon request. Generally, the Court will not accept courses taken online or courses taken with unapproved providers. Parents of minor children in common to the parties are required to enroll in an approved course before the Pre-Trial Conference and file proof of such enrollment or a completion certificate prior to the Pre-Trial Conference.

4. MEDIATION. Mediation should occur as soon as reasonably possible to minimize the expense and uncertainty of litigation. An exception to the general rule that a prompt mediation is useful involves matters in which a time sharing evaluator will likely be appointed. Under those circumstances, the Court prefers that mediation take place after a report is submitted by a time sharing evaluator. The Report on Mediation shall be prepared in accordance with Rule 12.740(f), Fla. Fam. L. R. P., and filed with the court prior to the Pre-Trial Conference. The requirement to mediate this case cannot be waived by agreement of the parties. If the parties have not mediated prior to the Pre-Trial Conference, the Court will continue the Trial pending the mediation unless good cause is shown. Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the Court, the parties shall be equally responsible for payment of all costs of mediation.

_____ This matter is being referred to a Mediator by separate order, and the Mediator appointed is copied on this order as recipient on the last page. If necessary, it is the responsibility of the Mediator to confer with counsel and the Office of the Court Administrator, telephone number 904-255-1001, for scheduling a Mediation Conference and submitting the appropriate Order for signature.

______ It is ORDERED that this case is hereby referred to family mediation in accordance with Rule 12.740, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure (“Fla. Fam. L. R. P.”). If necessary, the Court will enter a separate order to this effect. If neither party is represented, then Petitioner shall call the Office of the Family Mediation Unit at (904) 255-1120 to schedule a mediation.

______ The parties have already attended mediation. However, the Court encourages the parties to attend mediation again if there is any reasonable chance of progress.

This section is not applicable. Mediation is not required.

5. WITNESS LISTS.

(a) EXPERT WITNESSES. No later than sixty (60) days before the Pre-Trial Conference or within ten (10) days of the entry of this Order, whichever is later, each party shall file with the Court and serve on the other party a notice containing the names, addresses and telephone numbers of each expert witness whom the noticing party in good faith expects to call as a witness at trial. For each expert witness listed, the noticing party shall also designate the witness’ area of expertise, the subject matter about which the witness will testify, the substance of the facts and opinions about which the witness is expected to testify, and a summary of the grounds on which each of the opinions of the witnesses will be based. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Court expects the parties to truthfully and thoroughly answer interrogatories and other discovery. If interrogatories seeking information regarding expert witnesses have been served, the party answering such discovery shall do so in good faith and shall not delay furnishing the information regarding expert witnesses until the time such disclosure is required by this order.

(b) NON-EXPERT WITNESSES. No less than forty-five (45) days prior to the Pre-Trial Conference or within ten (10) days of the entry of this Order, whichever is later, each party will file with the Court, and serve on the other party, a notice containing the names and addresses of each non-expert witness whom the noticing party in good faith expects to call as a witness at trial.

(c) Absent good cause, no witness shall be permitted to testify unless the party calling that witness has complied with this Order.

6. DISCOVERY.

(a) Except as otherwise provided herein or agreed to by the parties in writing, discovery shall remain open until ten (10) days prior to the Pre-Trial Conference.

(b) No interrogatories, requests to produce or requests for admissions shall be served later than forty-five (45) days prior to the Pre-Trial Conference. Exceptions shall be permitted only by written stipulation of the parties or by Court order. However, the deadlines in this section shall not apply to service of a subpoena duces tecum to a witness for trial or service of a Notice To Produce at trial upon a party which are otherwise in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure and Family Law Rules of Procedure.

(c) The parties shall supplemental their mandatory disclosures, discovery responses and amend their financial affidavits pursuant to Rule 12.285(f), Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

7. WAIVER OF CUSTODIAN DEPOSITIONS. The Court encourages the parties to stipulate to the authenticity and business records foundations for exhibits whenever possible. In furtherance of that goal, the Court adopts the following optional procedures:

(a) Any party may file a Request for Stipulation of Records Custodian Foundation and separately and specifically identify and attach each document, defined broadly to include paper and electronic evidence, that such party believes, in good faith, that there is a basis for admission of such document into evidence subject to the possible need for testimony by a records custodian as to authenticity of the document and the business records foundation of such document.

(b) The party filing such Request shall include in bold type the following paragraph on the first page of such request:

NOTICE PURSUANT TO PRE-TRIAL ORDER PARAGRAPH 7(B): This Request for Stipulation of Records Custodian Foundation is being filed pursuant to the paragraph 7 of the Order Setting Case for Non-Jury Trial, etc. In accordance with the Order, any party desiring to preserve objections based on 1) authenticity, or 2) hearsay absent the business records foundation, shall file an objection within twenty (20) days and separately identify by document numbers referenced in this Request to which an objection is raised to such waiver, e.g., Respondent objects to the authenticity of documents 5, 7 and 9 and Respondent objects to the business records foundation for documents 5, 7, 10 and 11. If a party fails to file such an objection timely, the Court may deem such objections waived. Please refer to the Order Setting Case for Non-Jury Trial, etc.

(c) The Court adopts the rules set forth in paragraph 7(b) above absent a written agreement by the parties to the contrary.

8. CONTINUANCES. Motions for continuance must be in writing and specifically set forth: (a) the reason for the requested continuance; (b) if the other party objects to the requested continuance and; (c) when it is anticipated the case will be ready for trial, and (d) except for good cause shown, all motions for continuance shall be signed by the party requesting the continuance. If the requested continuance is based on the unavailability of a witness, the Court must be advised of when it is believed the witness will be available. The inability to require the attendance of a witness at trial shall not be the basis for continuance of the trial unless a witness subpoena was issued and served on the witness (or was attempted to be served on the witness) at least ten (10) days prior to the trial date. Rule 1.460, Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 2.085(c), Rules of Judicial Administration.

9. PRE-TRIAL MOTIONS.

(a) DEADLINES FOR MOTIONS. Motions filed within thirty (30) days of the trial date will not be considered if predicated on matters the movant knew or should have known with the exercise of reasonable diligence at least thirty (30) days prior to the trial date. Because of busy court calendars, hearing time may not be available to consider motions filed close to the deadline. The inability of a party to obtain hearing time will generally not constitute grounds for a continuance of the trial.

(b) DAUBERT ISSUES. All Daubert related motions or objections shall be filed and served at least thirty (30) days prior to the first day the case is set for trial. A copy of all such motions shall be delivered to the Court at the same time they are filed and served. The party filing Daubert related motions or objections shall be responsible to do that which is necessary so that hearings regarding Daubert related evidence shall be noticed and heard or agreed to by the parties no later than fifteen (15) days prior to the first day of the date the case is set for trial. Any Daubert related motions or objections shall state with particularity the grounds upon which they are based and the substantial matters of law to be argued and shall identify any evidence or supporting material on which the movant relies. Any Daubert related motions or objections not filed or noticed for hearing within the time referenced in this paragraph maybe denied and such objections are overruled. The Court may summarily rule on any Daubert related motion not written with particularity as described above.

(c) MOTIONS IN LIMINE. All case specific Motions in Limine shall be filed, served, noticed and heard or agreed to by the parties no later than thirty (30) days prior to the first day the case is set for trial. A copy of all such motions shall be delivered to the Court at the same time they are filed and served. The Motion shall state with particularity the grounds upon which it is based and the substantial matters of law to be argued and shall identify any evidence or supporting material on which the movant relies. The Court may summarily rule on any Motions in Limine not written with particularity as described above.

(d) MOTIONS GENERALLY. The failure of a party to call up for hearing any timely filed motion at least ten (10) days prior to the trial date may constitute a waiver thereof unless the grounds therefor did not exist or the party was not aware of the grounds for the motion(s) prior to the filing of such motion(s) after the exercise of reasonable diligence. However, pre-trial Motions For Contempt may be heard during the trial even though not previously scheduled provided timely notice is furnished to the opposing counsel or unrepresented party.

(e) CERTIFICATE OF GOOD FAITH. Before any motion is filed, the moving party shall contact the opposing party and attempt, in good faith, to amicably resolve the issues raised by the motion(s). Each motion shall contain a certificate of the movant's attorney if represented (or the moving party if unrepresented) certifying his/her compliance with this requirement.

10. COURT REPORTER. The parties shall coordinate the scheduling of a court reporter if a court reporter is desired.

11. SETTLEMENT OR DISMISSAL. If this case is dismissed or settled prior to the trial date, the parties shall promptly notify the Court by telephone (904-548-4940) and then confirm the settlement in writing or furnish the Court with a courtesy copy of the dismissal by email to astrickland@nassauclerk.com. Counsel shall also notify the Court of any pending hearings that will be canceled as a result of the settlement or dismissal.

12. PRE-TRIAL MEETING OF ATTORNEYS AND UNREPRESENTED PARTIES.

(a) MANDATORY PRE-TRIAL MEETING. No later than ten (10) days prior to the Pre-Trial Conference, trial counsel and all unrepresented parties shall meet together. This meeting may take place over the telephone if both parties agree in writing. Attendance at this meeting is mandatory. Petitioner's attorney (or if Petitioner is unrepresented, Respondent's attorney) shall arrange a mutually agreeable time, date and place for this meeting. If the parties are unable to agree, counsel shall promptly notify the Court in writing and the Court will then set the time, date and place for the meeting.

At the pre-trial meeting, the attorneys and/or unrepresented parties shall:

(1) Discuss and attempt to settle the case.

(2) If requested in writing by either party no later than thirty (30) days prior to the Pre-Trial Conference, the parties shall produce, examine and initial every evidentiary exhibit intended to be offered at trial; agree on those which can be admitted as joint exhibits, those which can be admitted without objection, and identify those to which objections will be made and the grounds for each objection, and note this on a separate copy of each party's exhibit list. With respect to each item, the Pre-Trial Stipulation shall reflect whether or not the evidence will be stipulated into evidence, stipulated as to authenticity, with objection reserved for relevancy and materiality, or objected to in its entirety and the ground therefor. All exhibits which are the subject of any objection raised in the Pre-Trial Stipulation shall be brought to the Pre-Trial Conference. Objections not reserved or grounds not noted on the annotated exhibit lists will be deemed waived at trial. The annotated copies of the exhibit lists will be attached to and made a part of the joint Pre-Trial statement required by paragraph 12(b) of this Order. Any listed exhibit not objected to will be admitted into evidence. The parties shall review the witness lists and note on a separate copy which witnesses and depositions the parties in good faith anticipate will actually be called at trial. The annotated copies of the witness lists will be attached to the joint pre-trial statement required by paragraph 12(b) of this Order.

(3) Discuss and stipulate as to those facts which do not require proof at trial. It would be helpful to the Court if the parties would submit a record of school grades for each minor child during the relevant time periods.

(4) Discuss, clarify and frame all factual issues to be tried.

(5) Identify all significant issues of law, procedure or evidence to be decided by the Court prior to or during trial.

(6) Discuss and attempt to agree upon any other matters which will lead to a more orderly trial (e.g., copies in lieu of originals, witnesses out of turn, how depositions will be presented, the need to call records custodians, etc.)

If counsel or unrepresented parties cannot agree on the place of the pre-trial meeting or cannot agree in writing that an in person meeting is unnecessary, then it shall be held at the County Courthouse in Jacksonville.

(b) JOINT PRE-TRIAL STATEMENT. Following the meeting required by paragraph 12(a), Petitioner's attorney (or Respondent's attorney, if Petitioner is unrepresented) shall prepare and present to opposing counsel and all unrepresented parties a proposed joint pre-trial statement. The statement shall be signed by all attorneys and parties; the original shall be filed with the Clerk and one copy mailed or delivered to the Judge no later than the Pre-Trial Conference. To the extent the parties differ as to how portions of the pre-trial statement should read, the differing views should be set forth in the statement. If an attorney believes the opposing party is not in good faith compliance with the disclosure requirements of this Pre-Trial Order, then that attorney shall not be required to file a Pre-Trial Statement that is not truly mutual. In that event, counsel may file a unilateral Pre-Trial Statement.

The pre-trial statement shall contain the following items in the following format:

(1) A statement of facts which are admitted and which of those admitted facts may be read in evidence at trial as a stipulation of the parties.

(2) A list of issues raised by the pleadings which are abandoned.

(3) A list of the issues of fact to be tried. If attorney’s fees are sought, then the parties are directed to read Rule 4-1.5, Rules Regulating Florida Bar; §61.16, Florida Statutes; Rosen v. Rosen, 696 So.2d 697 (Fla. 1997); Canakaris v. Canakaris, 382 So.2d 1197 (Fla. 1980); Naugle v. Naugle, 632 So.2d 1146 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994) and Abernethy v. Abernethy, 638 So.2d 160 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994).

(4) A list of significant issues of law, procedure or evidence, if any, to be determined by the Court prior to or during trial.

(5) A copy of each party’s list of exhibits. If one of the parties requested compliance with paragraph 12(a)(2), then the list shall show the objections as required by paragraph 12(a)(2) of this Order.

(6) A copy of each party’s witness list. If one of the parties requested compliance with paragraph 12(a)(2), then the list shall show the objections as required by paragraph 12(a)(2) of this Order.

(7) A current estimate of the time required for trial.

(8) If more than one house and a couple of cars are at issue as far as equitable distribution is concerned, the parties shall2 prepare an Equitable Distribution Worksheet stating the following:

a. Each party’s list of alleged “marital” assets, suggested valuations for each asset (real and personal property), suggested distribution for each pursuant to Section 61.075, Fla. Stat. and proposed brief factual findings in support of each asset’s distribution.

b. List of all assets claimed to be “nonmarital” together with suggested valuation and brief statement in support of claim.

c. List of all vested and nonvested benefits, rights or funds as defined by Section 61.076, Fla. Stat. and suggested distribution for each plan.

d. List of all liabilities, designating each as “marital” or “nonmarital” and stating amount and name of creditor.

e. List any asset which shall be asserted either as a claim for unequal distribution of marital property and resolved by the factors set forth in subsection (1) or as a claim of enhancement in value or appreciation of non-marital property; stating the extent of the claim and a brief explanation in support of it.

(9) A statement reflecting objections to specific portions of video depositions, testimony, or video exhibits which may be offered in evidence at trial.

(10) A list of any undisposed matters to be heard at the Pre-Trial Conference.

(11) Any other matters agreed upon.

13. FINANCIAL AFFIDAVITS. It is required that financial affidavits of both parties and all other mandatory disclosures required by Rule 12.285, Fla. Fam. L. R. P. be supplemented. The Court will take judicial notice of all Financial Affidavits filed in the matter at trial pursuant to Rule 12.004, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

14. EXTENSION OF TIME LIMITS. No extension of deadlines or compliance dates established by this Order is permitted if the extension or modification would cause a continuance of the trial or would prevent the completion of mediation prior to the Pre-Trial Conference. Any extension or modification agreed to shall be by written stipulation signed by all parties to this action and filed with the Court. Any other extension of the deadlines or compliance dates established herein or modifications of this Order requires Court approval.

15. STANDARDS OF CONDUCT. Conduct that may be characterized as uncivil, abusive, hostile or obstructive impedes the fundamental goal of resolving cases fairly and efficiently and will not be tolerated. Such conduct tends to delay and deny justice. Accordingly, in addition to the standards imposed on all attorneys by the Florida Code of Professional Responsibility, the following standards will apply to all attorneys and parties to this action:

(a) All attorneys, parties and witnesses will be treated in a civil and courteous manner, not only in court, but at depositions and in all written and oral communications. Parties shall not interrupt a witness except to make evidentiary objections. The parties shall refrain from gestures or comments while others are testifying. The parties shall not talk over one another or speak while the Court is speaking.

(b) No attorney or party will abuse or indulge in offensive conduct directed to other attorneys, parties or witnesses. Counsel and all parties shall abstain from disparaging personal remarks or acrimony towards other attorneys, parties or witnesses. Adverse witnesses and parties will be treated with fair consideration.

(c) Absent good cause, no attorney or party shall attribute bad motives or improper conduct to opposing counsel or any adverse party or bring the legal profession into disrepute by unfounded accusations of impropriety.

(d) All attorneys and parties shall make good faith efforts to resolve by agreement any objections to matters contained in pleadings, discovery requests or objections.

(e) No attorney or unrepresented party shall time the filing or service of motions or pleadings in any way that unfairly limits the other party's opportunity to respond, and each will consult with the other regarding scheduling matters in a good faith effort to avoid scheduling conflicts.

(f) All attorneys and parties shall make every reasonable effort to expedite this proceeding.

(g) Counsel shall strictly abide by Fla. Bar Code Prof. Resp. Rule 4.3-6 regarding trial publicity.

(h) Before hearings are scheduled, or if that is not feasible immediately after scheduling, counsel and all unrepresented parties will attempt to verify the availability of necessary participants and witnesses so that the Court can be notified of any foreseeable problems.

(I) Nothing in this Order supersedes or detracts from the Code of Professional Responsibility or alters existing standards of conduct. Counsel and all parties shall comply with the Court Conduct Handbook on Gender Equality in the Courts.

16. SANCTIONS. The unexcused failure of counsel or any party to comply with the requirements of this Order will subject the offending counsel or party to appropriate sanctions which may include, but are not limited to contempt, the striking of pleadings or claims or defenses, the exclusion of evidence or witnesses, or the assessment of fees or costs, or such other sanctions as may be appropriate. The Court solicits feedback to make improvements to these procedures. Any constructive criticism may be delivered anonymously or otherwise to the Judicial Assistant for this division, Ashley Strickland.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, in Yulee, Nassau County, Florida, this ____ day of _______, 20___.

____________________________________

STEVEN M. FAHLGREN

CIRCUIT JUDGE
Copies furnished to:
Attorney for Petitioner
Attorney for Respondent
Mediator
If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the ADA Coordinator at (904) 548-4600 (then press 0) at least 7 days before your scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving this notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than 7 days; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711.”


1 Form Updated December 7, 2016. See page eight (8) herein.

2 The failure of a party to provide an equitable distribution worksheet to the Court with the pretrial stipulation may result in the Court not considering that party’s valuations as to the asserted values for property or debt.

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