Order Amending Rules of Miscellaneous Procedure; No. 115-09
[39 Pa.B. 517]
[Saturday, January 31, 2009]
And Now, this 19th day of January, 2009, It Is Hereby Ordered that all existing Clinton County Rules of Miscellaneous Procedure be revoked and the following new Rules adopted as set forth hereafter:
SCOPE OF RULES
Title and Citation of Rules
These rules shall be known as the Clinton County Rules of Miscellaneous Procedure and may be cited as ''Clinton R.M.P. No. _____ .''
Scope of Rules
These rules shall govern all proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas of Clinton County, Pennsylvania, and shall be construed either consistent with or subordinate to all rules or decisions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, rules of the Judicial Council of Pennsylvania, any statutes still in effect governing practice and procedure, the Clinton County Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Clinton County Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Clinton County Orphans' Court Rules.
COURT CALENDAR AND TRIAL SCHEDULE
Court in Continuous Session. Court Calendar.
1. Court shall be in continuous session throughout the year.
2. Prior to December of each year, the Court by order will fix the Court calendar for the upcoming year. A copy of this order shall be posted in the Prothonotary's office and mailed to all attorneys regularly practicing before the Court.
Civil Trial Scheduling
1. The Prothonotary shall keep a ''Trial List'' book in which shall be placed all civil cases that are to be tried both jury and non-jury trials.
2. Civil cases shall only be placed upon the trial list by praecipe or by order of Court. Any party who praecipes a matter for trial shall certify that:
a. The matter has been at issue more than twenty (20) days;
b. Discovery has been completed;
c. There are no pending pre-trial motions;
d. The matter is not subject to compulsory arbitration or has been appealed therefrom; and
e. Whether the matter is to be heard jury or non-jury.The Prothonotary shall not honor any praecipe for trial that does not contain the above recitals. The praecipe shall be served by the moving party upon all other parties or their counsel of record.
3. Cases in which new trials have been granted shall be placed at the head of the trial list. All other cases shall be listed in the order in which praecipes are filed, subject to any preference given another case by statute or rule of Court.
4. At twelve o'clock noon on the last full working day of each month, the Prothonotary shall close the list of cases to be tried and immediately have printed a list showing the cases to be tried divided into two categories: (1) jury trials and (2) non-jury trials.
5. The trial list shall be posted in the Prothonotary's Office, and a copy thereof delivered to the President Judge, to all counsel of record appearing in cases on the list, and to all parties unrepresented by counsel whose case appears on the list.
Counsel's Pre-Trial Conference (Civil Jury Trials)
1. Within twenty (20) days of the posting of the civil jury trial list, plaintiff's counsel shall contact all other counsel to arrange for a pre-trial conference between counsel which shall be completed within forty-five (45) days of the posting of the aforesaid trial list. Counsel's conference shall be conducted at the Clinton County Courthouse unless all counsel agree to another location. Arrangements for the availability of a room at the Courthouse shall be made through the Court Administrator. The failure of plaintiff's counsel to comply with the schedule provided herein shall upon motion be grounds for a non pros.
2. At counsel's conference the following matters shall be accomplished:
a. Counsel shall exchange lists of potential witnesses, their addresses, and a general statement of the proposed testimony of each witness. The lists shall indicate which witnesses will be called and which may be called. Only witnesses so listed will be permitted to testify at trial.
b. Counsel shall examine, number, and list all exhibits which they intend to introduce and use at trial, whether during the case in chief or in rebuttal. Exhibits shall be marked by using the labels then in use by the Court. Any party may use at trial any exhibit listed by any other party. Only exhibits so listed and numbered will be admitted into evidence at trial. Counsel shall make a good faith attempt to agree as to the authenticity and admissibility of exhibits which have been listed and marked. If such an agreement cannot be reached, the objecting party shall state in detail the reasons for an objection together with any authorities in support of that position.
c. Counsel shall agree upon a brief factual statement of the case to be read to the jury as a part of voir dire and submit proposed questions to be used by the Court or counsel in conducting voir dire.
d. Each party shall submit to the other parties, in writing, the principles upon which they intend to rely at trial. If the parties disagree as to the applicability of a particular legal principle, a statement shall be prepared indicating the nature of said disagreement and each party's respective position.
e. Each party claiming damages shall submit to the party against whom the claim is asserted, an itemized list of special damages together with a list of the categories of general damages being sought and the estimated value of said general damages.
f. Counsel shall explore in depth the prospects for settlement and if a settlement cannot be achieved be prepared to explain to the Court the areas of difference in arriving at a settlement.
Report of Counsel's Pre-Trial Conference
1. Within ten (10) days of the completion of counsel's conference, plaintiff's counsel shall prepare a report thereof and submit the same to the assigned Judge and counsel. To the extent the report requires information and rules of law pertaining to defendant's case, it shall be the responsibility of defendant's counsel to provide plaintiff's counsel with such data. The report shall contain the following:
a. A statement of the date and place where counsel's conference was held.
b. A list of all prospective witnesses and accompanying data as required by Clinton R.M.P. No. 203(2)(a).
c. A list of all exhibits which have been examined, numbered and listed in accordance with Clinton R.M.P. No. 203(2)(b). Each numbered exhibit shall be briefly but adequately identified on this list together with an indication as to whether the exhibit's admissibility is being contested. If an exhibit's admissibility is in dispute the objecting party's statement of reasons for the objection shall be included.
d. The agreed upon brief statement of facts to be read to the jury for voir dire purposes together with each party's proposed questions for voir dire.
e. Plaintiff's statement of the legal principles being relied upon to support the case together with an indication as to whether those principles are in dispute as well as a statement of the legal principles being relied upon by all other parties.
f. A statement of damages as required by Clinton R.M.P. No. 203(2)(e).
g. Any stipulation of fact which the parties have agreed upon for use at trial including any waivers of specific claims or defenses.
h. Concise trial briefs regarding the anticipated legal issues to be presented at trial. When any portion of a trial brief relies upon an unreported opinion, photocopies of that opinion shall be attached to the briefs.
i. A concise statement, in narrative form, from each party as to the basic facts intended to be proven at trial.
j. Proposed special verdict questions which any party anticipates submitting at the time of trial.
2. If any party disagrees with any representation made in plaintiff's report of counsel's conference, a written objection to said report shall be submitted to the assigned Judge within ten (10) days of the filing of plaintiff's report.
1. If no objections are filed to the Report of Counsel's Pre-Trial Conference within the time limits prescribed by Clinton R.M.P. No. 204(2), the Court Administrator shall forthwith schedule the matter for a pre-trial conference between the assigned Judge and counsel. This conference shall be attended by counsel who are expected to try the case and who shall either be authorized to enter into a settlement agreement or who shall have in attendance, in person or readily available by telephone, such persons who are empowered to enter into a settlement agreement. The Judge and counsel shall discuss the report of counsel's conference, any possible simplification of the issues, the possible bifurcation of the trial, limitations on the number of expert witnesses, the prospects of settlement, and such other matters as may aid in the trial or disposition of the action.
2. If a party fails to cooperate in the conduct of the pre-trial proceedings mandated by Clinton R.M.P. Nos. 203, 204, and 205, including but not limited to, failure to attend any scheduled conference and/or the inadequate preparation of required documents, such failure shall be deemed to be grounds for the entry of a judgment of non pros or other appropriate default relief.
ARBITRATION AND AWARD
All cases which are at issue where the amount in controversy is Fifty Thousand ($50,000.00) Dollars or less, except those involving title to real estate, shall first be submitted to and heard by a Board of three members of the Bar of this Court, as provided by 42 Pa.C.S.A. 7361. Unless a party has demanded a jury trial, the President Judge may dispense with compulsory arbitration and order the matter tried as a non-jury trial. At such non-jury trial, the parties may proceed pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1305 with respect to evidentiary matters.
1. All members of the Clinton County Bar shall constitute the Board of Arbitrators and all members shall act as arbitrators. No two members from the same firm or office, or related by blood or marriage, shall serve on the same board, unless this requirement is waived in writing by all parties in interest or their counsel.
2. The Prothonotary shall maintain, in alphabetical order, a list of all members of the Bar. Upon the filing of a praecipe for arbitration, the Prothonotary shall submit a list of five names to the plaintiff or the attorney for the plaintiff. In the event there are additional parties to the proceeding, the Prothonotary shall add an additional name for each additional party. This list shall be in the order in which the names appear on the Prothonotary's list, passing those who are disqualified to the next qualified. The plaintiff may strike one member from the list and forward the list to the defendant who may likewise strike one member. In the event of an additional party or parties, the defendant shall forward the list to that party who may likewise strike one member. When all parties have exercised the right to strike, the list shall be returned to the Prothonotary. In the event a party or parties do not exercise the right to strike, the first three remaining members shall constitute the Board and the first shall be the chairperson. Any stricken member, as well as any disqualified member, shall, in alphabetical order, be at the head of the list for the next and/or subsequent cases.
Consolidation of Actions
When the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences, gives rise to more than one cause of action and separate actions have been commenced, all such actions shall be consolidated for arbitration, referred to the same board of arbitration, and heard together, unless the amount in controversy in one or more of the actions exceeds Twenty-Five Thousand ($25,000.00) Dollars, in which case, none of them shall be submitted to arbitration except by the agreement of all parties in writing. It shall be the duty of every board of arbitration, before proceeding with the hearing, to ascertain whether or not any such separate action has been commenced.
Place of Hearing
All hearings shall be held in the Clinton County Courthouse.
Fees of Arbitrators
The fee of the chairperson shall be Two Hundred ($200.00) Dollars. The fee of each other arbitrator shall be One Hundred Seventy-Five ($175.00) Dollars. These fees shall be applicable in all cases, including those which have been consolidated as provided under Clinton R.M.P. 403. In cases requiring lengthy hearings or involving unusual questions of law or fact, the Court may, on petition of the arbitrators, increase the fees to an amount which will reasonably compensate them for the services performed.
Bill of Costs
1. Every bill of costs shall set forth the names and addresses of the witnesses, the dates of their attendance, the number of miles actually traveled by each, and the places from which mileage is claimed. To the bill of costs shall be attached any subpoena, endorsed with a return of service on oath or affirmation of the person who served it, setting forth the place where service on each witness was made, the date of service, and the number of miles actually traveled in making service.
2. Every bill of costs shall be verified on oath or affirmation of the party filing it or their agent or attorney that the witnesses named were actually present in Court on the dates stated and that they were material witnesses.
3. All bills of costs shall be filed, a copy thereof served on the adverse party, and proof of service filed within ten (10) days after the trial or continuance.
4. Any party upon whom a bill of costs has been served may, within five (5) days after such service, file exceptions and request a hearing. Failure to file timely exceptions shall be deemed a waiver of all objections to the bill as filed. The collection of costs will be stayed until the trial judge has decided the matter.
Termination of Inactive Cases
As required by Pa.R.J.A. No. 1901, the following procedure shall be followed regarding matters that have been inactive for an unreasonable period of time:
1. An ''inactive matter'' means any civil or criminal proceeding filed in the Court or with any Magisterial District Judge in which no action has been taken for a continuous period of twenty-four (24) months.
2. In the month of January of each year, the Prothonotary or Clerk of Courts shall provide the Court Administrator with a written list of all pending inactive matters which were initiated in their respective offices earlier than the third calendar year preceding the year in which the list is being prepared. Said written list shall contain the following information:
a. Number and term of the matter.
b. Names and record addresses of the parties.
c. Names and addresses of counsel of record.
d. Type of action if a civil matter.
e. Charges against the defendant if a criminal matter.
3. Upon receipt of the aforesaid list of inactive matters, the Court Administrator shall review the same with the President Judge, who shall, on his own motion, issue an Order directing the parties to show cause why the matter should not be terminated and stating that for failure to do so the case will be dismissed without prejudice. Such Order shall fix the date for hearing and shall provide for at least thirty (30) days' notice in the manner provided in Pa.R.J.A. No. 1901(c).
4. Unless otherwise ordered, record costs in any dismissed criminal case shall be taxed to the county, and in any other case to the plaintiff, petitioner, or party initiating the proceeding.
5. On or before March 1st of each year, each Magisterial District Judge, after at least thirty (30) days' written notice to parties and counsel, shall dismiss inactive matters without prejudice, and shall on or before May 1st of each year transmit to the Court Administrator a written report of any inactive matters which have not been dismissed.
This Order shall take effect thirty (30) days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
By the Court
J. MICHAEL WILLIAMSON,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 09-151. Filed for public inspection January 30, 2009, 9:00 a.m.]
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