Updated: September 1, 2020
For Attorneys & Legal Staff Only:
All communication addressed to the Court or court staff, whether by motion, letter, or email, must include the name of the case, the civil action number, and should identify the party represented by Delaware counsel communicating with the court.
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. Whenever possible, Judge Rocanelli prefers requests for court action to be submitted by motion rather then by letter with a proposed Form of Order or Stipulation attached so that the Court can rule electronically. This will expedite court action on requests for relief.
Only Delaware counsel, not legal staff or counsel admitted pro hac vice, may write directly to Judge Rocanelli. All correspondence must be signed by a Delaware attorney in the law firm of the attorney of record and copied to opposing counsel.
All substantive and some administrative emails are docketed and must always include the civil action number. The use of email is not permitted when the case includes a self-represented party.
Email messages may be directed to Judge Rocanelli either (a) with Judge Rocanelli's prior approval; or (b) when exigent circumstances exist. Under these circumstances, email messages must be copied to all Delaware counsel of record, Judge Rocanelli's Administrative Specialist and Judge Rocanelli's Law Clerk. However, this does not preclude administrative emails to Court staff. Email to Judge Rocanelli is not appropriate and will not be accepted when one or more parties are self-represented.
A teleconference with the Court may be requested by calling Judge Rocanelli's Administrative Specialist. Counsel requesting the teleconference will arrange to initiate the call otherwise plaintiff's counsel will be responsible.
Judge Rocanelli makes every effort to be available by teleconference to resolve disputes that arise during depositions, or to address other matters requiring expedited consideration.
Comments or questions from lawyers, paralegals and other legal staff about Judge Rocanelli's preferences are welcome.
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 realizes that the Case Information Statement(s) 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 contacted by the Judge's Administrative Specialist via email to set a trial date. The Court will then issue a Trial Scheduling Order via File & Serve.
If any of the parties are self-represented, the Court will set up a scheduling conference to take place in the courtroom on the record.
Trial Scheduling Orders:
Civil cases will be scheduled for trial in the FIRST and THIRD quarters of each calendar year. Trial Scheduling Orders establish firm deadlines. Failure to meet deadlines, without good cause, may result in the Court's refusal to allow extension.
- Please use the Stipulated Amended TSO form for any stipulations/proposed orders to amend the Trial Scheduling Order, including the current date for each event and the proposed date for each event whether or not the proposed order anticipates amendment of each date. The new TSO should include all dates for easy reference.
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 Rocanelli 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 briefs and motions must have one-inch margins and be written in 14 pt. type and double-spaced. Exhibits to briefs, chambers copies of motions, or letters, must be individually tabbed. Briefs, exhibits, or appendices must be stapled or bound. Judge Rocanelli 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 Rocanelli neither needs nor requires a compendium of unreported authorities, as long as such cases or other authority are available on Westlaw.
Routine Motions are defined in Paragraph IV.B.3.a. of the NCC Plan.
Judge Rocanelli hears routine motions on select Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. Please contact Judge Rocanelli's Administrative Specialist in chambers or Judicial Civil Case Manager in the Prothonotary for scheduling on an available hearing date.
Routine Motions must be filed 10 days (excluding weekends and holidays) prior to the noticed date. Responses are due within 7 days of receipt of service of the motion. If no response is timely filed, the Court may deem the motion unopposed and grant the motion without a hearing.
If counsel does not oppose a routine motion, non-opposing counsel should so notify the court by letter. If possible, an unopposed motion should represent that the motion is not opposed in the motion itself (if such non-opposition is known to the movant) in which event no further notification is necessary.
A courtesy copy of both the motion and response must be filed in chambers.
A motion to continue a trial date shall be scheduled as a routine motion.
Counsel should notice dispositive motions to be heard at the convenience of the Court. The original motion, response, and reply must be e-filed. No reply may be filed without permission. Two courtesy copies must be promptly delivered to chambers. The motion and response shall not exceed 6 pages, unless permission has previously been granted to exceed the page limit. Counsel who seeks to exceed the page limit should file a letter requesting submission of more pages. If no response is timely filed, the Court may deem the motion unopposed and grant the motion without a hearing. Judge Rocanelli's Administrative Specialist will contact counsel via email with a date and time for the motion hearing. Response to the motion shall be filed at least seven days prior to the motion hearing.
Attendence at Hearing:
When the Court conducts a hearing or considers oral argument on motions, it is in the interest of justice and judicial economy that all parties appear. The Court expects all parties to be present, regardless of whether the party takes a position on the motion presented.
Attorneys appearing in court are expected to be adequately prepared and thoroughly familiar with the factual record and the applicable law, and to have a degree of authority commensurate with the proceeding.
Oral Arguements by Newer Attorneys:
Recognizing the importance of the development of future generations of practitioners through courtroom opportunities, Judge Rocanelli encourages the participation of newer attorneys (those attorneys relatively recently admitted to the Bar and who have less courtroom experience), particularly as to oral argument on motions where the newer attorney drafted or contributed significantly to the motion. To that end, Judge Rocanelli adopts the following procedures regarding oral argument by newer attorneys:
(1) A party requesting oral argument may alert Judge Rocanelli that, if argument is granted, it intends to have a newer attorney argue the motion (or a portion of the motion).
(2) If such notice is provided, the Court will:
(A) grant the request for oral argument on the motion, if it is at all practicable to do so.
(B) strongly consider allocating time for oral argument beyond what the Court may otherwise have allocated, were a newer attorney not arguing the motion.
(C) permit other more experienced counsel of record the ability to provide some assistance during oral argument to the newer attorney who is arguing the motion.
Judge Rocanelli recognizes that there may be many different circumstances in which it is not appropriate for a newer attorney to argue a motion; thus, no inference will be drawn from a party's decision not to have a newer attorney argue any particular motion before the Court.
Additionally, the Court will draw no inference about the importance of a particular motion, or the merits of the party's argument regarding the motion, from the party's decision to have (or not to have) a newer attorney argue the motion.
A Proposed Order must be uploaded separately from any other documents, and filed in Word format!
If a proposed order is not filed with its responsive motion, a Certificate of Service or a letter with 'CC' at the bottom is required to be filed with it.
There must be a line for the presiding judicial officer to sign.
The document title must state with particularity what the proposed order addresses.
The filing must be linked to the documents to which the proposed order refers or applies.
All Delaware counsel/self-represented litigants must sign a stipulation.
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. Proposed jury instructions should be submitted with the pre-trial stipulation so they may be discussed at the Pre-Trial Conference. Legal issues raised in the pretrial stipulation will be resolved at the pretrial conference if possible.
Trial counsel, including counsel admitted pro hac vice , must attend the Pretrial Conference. For good cause, such as distance and/or the nature of the case, counsel admitted pro hac vice may be permitted to participate by phone. Pre-trial conferences are reported.
Trial Fee must be paid no later than the date of the pretrial conference. If the trial fee is not paid within 2 business days of the pretrial conference, the case will be removed from the Court’s calendar. A new trial date will be scheduled once the trial fee is paid.
Motions In Limine:
Any particularly significant evidentiary issue, including Daubert issues, should be raised by motion in limine. The Court's scheduling order will address deadlines for filing motions in limine. Motions in limine are typically decided on a paper record.
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 an 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 9:30 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.
Counsel intending to present any evidence via electronic media (e.g., audio, video, DVD, etc.) should:
- confer with opposing counsel to ensure all necessary redactions or revisions are completed before the start of trial;
- ensure the media source is compatible with the Court's courtroom technology;
- ensure that counsel or someone employed by counsel is available and competent to present the evidence at trial;
- ensure one copy of the evidence presented (and a transcript thereof, if applicable) is prepared and ready to be marked and submitted as a Court exhibit at the time the evidence is presented. The Court prefers 2 hard copies of exhibits and 2 digital copies. (However, in cases involving a high volume of exhibits, hard copies may not be feasible.) The Court encourages the use of joint exhibits, whenever possible. Witness binders are helpful. 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 Microsoft Word to Judge Rocanelli's Administrative Specialist and Civil Case Manager. Jury instructions should be submitted with a Table of Contents.
Counsel should avoid 'speaking' objections. Judge Rocanelli 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. (See: Guidelines to Help Lawyers Practicing in the Court of Chancery.)
If a pending case is resolved, plaintiff's counsel should notify chambers immediately via e-mail to Judge Rocanelli's judicial secretary, civil case manager, and law clerk. Within thirty (30) days of settlement, as a general rule, proper documentation should be submitted to the Court or plaintiff's counsel should file a status report if documentation has not been finalized. However, if a case resolves within thirty (30) days of the scheduled trial, then the proper documentation must be submitted no later than the deadline for the pre-trial stipulation. Cases will NOT be removed from the trial calendar unless a stipulation of dismissal resolving the entire case has been filed with the Court. In the alternative, counsel must make a joint request for continuance of the scheduled trial date.
If a pending case is resolved, Plaintiff's counsel should notify Chambers immediately via email to Judge Rocanelli's Administrative Specialist, Case Manager and Law Clerk. As a general rule, proper documentation should be submitted to the Court within (30) thirty days of settlement. If a case resolves within (30) thirty days of a scheduled trial, the Court may require the documentation by the close of business on the day prior to the scheduled trial.
- Case Information Statement
- Trial Scheduling Order (Revised)
- Self Represented Litigant Packet
- Trial Scheduling Order - Self Represented Litigant
- Stipulated Amended Case Scheduling Order
- Civil Form 46 for Pretrial Stipulations
- Administrative Directives
- Administrative Orders
- Appellate Administrative Order: Standard for Timely Disposition (March 21, 1995)
- Case Management Plan, NCC
- Civil Administrative Order: Policy, Time Standards and Procedures (March 28, 2000)
- Mediators Directory, NCC
- Orders & Opinions
- Rules of Civil Procedure
- Uniform Citation (DE)