Delaware Courts have returned to Phase Two of the reopening plan as of November 16, 2020. Learn more about the public reopening plan.

For the latest on the Delaware Judiciary response to COVID-19 – and for contact information for each court during this emergency – please visit The Delaware Judiciary Response to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page.

Judicial Preferences

Judge Mary M. Johnston Civil Case Management Preferences

Updated: September 1, 2020

For Attorneys & Legal Staff Only:

Janice Fitzsimons, Administrative Specialist
Phone: (302) 255-0668

VACANT, Judicial Civil Case Manager
Prothonotary's Office
Phone: (302) 255-0744

Isabella Gray, Law Clerk
Phone: (302) 255-0411

Fax Numbers:

Chambers Fax: (302) 255-2273 *

Prothonotary Fax: (302) 255-2598 *

* Please advise the Administrative Specialist or Civil Case Manager by phone or email that a FAX transmission has been or is about to be sent to chambers or the prothonotary.

Only counsel, not legal staff, may write directly to Judge Johnston. All correspondence must be signed by an attorney in the law firm of the attorney of record.

Any letter to the Court requesting Court action of some kind (in instances where a motion is otherwise not appropriate) must state the position of all parties or otherwise represent that opposing counsel or self-represented party could not be reached.

Email should not be directed to Judge Johnston except (a) with Judge Johnston's prior approval; or (b) when exigent circumstances exist. However, this does not preclude administrative emails to Court staff.

Administrative emails are not docketed. Administrative emails only may be sent to Judge Johnston if not appropriate to send to other staff.

Substantive emails are docketed and must copy all counsel and include the civil action number. Email is not appropriate when a party is self-represented.

Comments or questions from lawyers, paralegals and other legal staff about Judge Johnston's preferences are welcome, and should be directed to Jane Krieger or .

A teleconference with the Court may be requested by calling Judge Johnston's Administrative Specialist. Counsel requesting the teleconference ordinarily will arrange to initiate the call.

Judge Johnston makes every effort to be available by teleconference to resolve disputes that arise during depositions, or to address other matters requiring expedited consideration.

Related Cases:

Counsel should always identify any 'related' Superior Court cases on the Case Information Statement filed with the complaint, or with the answer, so that the new case is assigned to the same judge. If counsel belatedly realize that the Case Information Statement omitted reference to another pending case and that the subsequent civil case was assigned to a different judge, please promptly notify the Judicial Case Manager for the judge assigned to the subsequently-filed case.

Initial Scheduling Conferences:
After responsive pleading(s) are filed counsel will be notified by letter that a teleconference has been scheduled to establish a case scheduling order. Plaintiff's counsel will be directed to initiate the call. If the teleconference date or time is not convenient, counsel may call Judge Johnston's Administrative Specialist to reschedule the teleconference. If counsel feel that an office conference is more appropriate, that can be arranged through the Administrative Specialist. If counsel have not yet received a letter scheduling a teleconference, counsel may contact chambers by letter or telephone, to request that an initial conference be scheduled. In CCLD cases, initial conferences generally will be held in chambers. Non-Delaware counsel may appear by telephone, with permission.

Trial Scheduling Orders:
Judge Johnston's standard Case Scheduling Order will be used for most civil cases. All CCLD cases will use the CCLD Case Management Order. These Orders establish firm deadlines. Failure to meet deadlines, without good cause, may result in the Court's refusal to allow extensions. Requests for amendment of scheduling and management orders must be made: (1) by appropriate motion; or (2) by joint stipulation to be considered by the Court, if the proposed amendments do not affect any dates requiring Court action (such as hearings on dispositive motions, pretrial conferences, or trial dates). If a party seeks to extend discovery or expert deadlines, without affecting remaining scheduled dates, the motion or stipulation should so state.

Appeals from Administrative Agencies, Boards, Commission and Courts:

If there is an unusual delay in the preparation of the record, counsel for appellant(s) should write to the Court to advise of the problem. Judge Johnston may take appropriate action to accelerate this process pursuant to Superior Court Appellate Administrative Order, March 21, 1995. Oral argument generally is not held in administrative appeals.


All motions shall be formatted in the manner set forth in Superior Court Civil Rule 78(b). All briefs shall be formatted in the manner set forth in Superior Court Civil Rules 107(b), (d), (e), and (h). Exhibits to briefs, chambers copies of motions, or letters, must be individually tabbed. Briefs, exhibits, or appendices must be stapled or bound. Judge Johnston strongly prefers bindings that will permit the brief to lay flat when opened.

Case citations shall use Westlaw format for unreported decisions where possible. The Superior Court presently does not have ready capability to utilize Lexis.

Judge Johnston neither needs nor requires a compendium of unreported authorities, so long as such cases or other authority are available on Westlaw.

Routine Motions:

Routine Motions are defined in Paragraph IV.B.3.a. of the NCC Plan and Superior Court Civil Rule 107(b). Judge Johnston hears routine motions every Thursday at 9:00 a.m. The routine motions calendar is designed to resolve each motion in no more than 15 minutes. Counsel may contact Judge Johnston's Administrative Specialist if the complexity of the motion requires a longer hearing. Routine Motions must be filed 10 days (excluding weekends and holidays) prior to the noticed date. Responses are due the Friday before the noticed hearing. A courtesy copy of both the motion and response must be filed in chambers. If no response is timely filed, the Court may deem the motion unopposed and grant the motion without a hearing. A motion to continue a trial date shall be scheduled as a routine motion.

Dispositive Motions: Counsel should obtain possible dates and times for oral argument through the Administrative Specialist. The original motion, response, and reply must be e-filed. No surreply may be filed without permission of Judge Johnston. Two courtesy copies must be promptly delivered to chambers. The motion, response and reply shall not exceed 6 pages, unless permission has previously been granted to exceed the page limit. Counsel should call the Administrative Specialist to request additional pages. The Motion, Response and Reply shall include a notice page, indicating the time for argument. If no response is timely filed, the Court may deem the motion unopposed and grant the motion, without a hearing.

Pretrial Stipulations:

Counsel is expected to utilize Superior Court Civil Form 46 for Pretrial Stipulations. All legal or evidentiary issues worthy of pretrial identification and focus should be identified in the stipulation with brief citation(s) of legal authorities relied upon. Legal issues raised in the pretrial stipulation will be resolved at the pretrial conference if possible.

Pretrial Conferences:

Ordinarily, proposed jury instructions must be filed on the day of trial. In complex cases, the Court may require that instructions be filed with the Pretrial Stipulation. Trial counsel, including pro hac vice counsel, must attend the Pretrial Conference. For good cause, such as distance and/or the nature of the case, pro hac vice counsel may be permitted to participate by phone.


Delaware counsel are expected to attend trial. Delaware counsel should at all times be prepared to try the case, in the (unlikely) event the Court finds it necessary to revoke pro hac admission.

As trial issues arise, counsel should confer with opposing counsel before bringing the issue to the Court's attention to avoid unnecessary surprise to any other party and to seek resolution of the issue without need of Court involvement.

Trial days begin at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:30 p.m., with an hour for lunch (in addition to other shorter recesses).

Counsel desiring a courtroom with specific technology support should contact the Bailiffs' Office (302) 255-0888 several days before the trial.

The Court encourages the use of joint exhibits, whenever possible. Witness binders are helpful in more complex cases. All exhibits should be pre-marked, whenever possible.

Counsel intending to use demonstrative exhibits during opening statements should confer with opposing counsel several days before the trial and seek to resolve any issues.

Court submissions that are likely to be revised by the Court, i.e., proposed jury instructions and voir dire questions, should be submitted in WordPerfect or Word.

In jury trials, counsel should avoid 'speaking' objections. Judge Johnston ordinarily will address substantive objections at sidebar. Objections as to form will be resolved immediately in the presence of the jury.

Court is in session from the time the Judge enters until the Judge leaves the courtroom. Counsel must stand when addressing the Court. Counsel must address the bench, not each other. All coats and materials not immediately necessary for trial must be neatly stowed.

The Court expects all counsel to act in a manner consistent with the highest principles of ethics and professionalism, expected of all Delaware attorneys. See: (Guidelines to Help Lawyers Practicing in the Court of Chancery.)