Updated: September 1, 2017
For Attorneys & Legal Staff Only:
Chambers Fax: (302) 856-5890 *
Prothonotary' Fax: (302) 856-5973 *
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 Stokes. 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.
If desired, a teleconference with the Court may be requested by calling Tina Sanchez, Administrative Specialist. Counsel requesting the teleconference will arrange to initiate the call.
Judge Stokes 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 Stokes' preferences are welcome.
Ten Points on Written Advocacy
The goal of written submissions is to enable the Court to readily identify your issues, your position on those issues, and the authority supporting your position. Each of these three parts is equally important.
- Present a concise statement of the issue or issues.
- Cite authority for each proposition of law.
- If you cite a case that differs from your own in any significant way, acknowledge the distinction and explain how the cited case is nonetheless supportive of one of your points.
- Do not extract a legal proposition from its context. That is, after I read the cited case and find that its context alters the meaning you ascribe to it, you are not serving your client’s best interest.
- Do not make arguments that you know have little or no chance of winning.
- When making an argument that requires a particular showing, make that showing rather than simply asserting that your case meets the test.
- If an argument requires a multi-part showing, address each part with specificity. Do not merely state a conclusion.
- Present your strongest issue first and proceed from there. Do not add issues just for the sake of making them. If you do, you are not serving your client’s best interest.
- Avoid misstating your adversary’s positions or statements.
- The best written submissions state clear issues, provide relevant authority, and discuss each issue thoroughly, yet as concisely as possible.
Note on Discovery
When issues arise in the discovery process, make a good faith attempt to resolve the problem. A perfunctory effort is not acceptable. Judicial action should only be employed when necessary, given the heavy demands of the Court’s civil and criminal dockets.1_________________________________________________
1See Spanish Tiles, Ltd. v. Hensey, 2007 WL 11522159, at *4 (Del. Super. Apr. 13, 2007) (quoting Cable & Computer Tech., Inc. v. Lockheed Sanders, Inc., 175 F.R.D. 646, 652 (C.D. Cal. 1997) (“[T]he discovery system depends absolutely on good faith and common sense from counsel. The courts, sorely pressed by demands to try cases promptly and to rule thoughtfully on potentially case dispositive motions, simply do not have the resources to police closely the operation of the discovery process. The whole system of [c]ivil adjudication would be ground to a virtual halt if the courts were forced to intervene in even a modest percentage of discovery transactions. That fact should impose on counsel an acute sense of responsibility about how they handle discovery matters. They should strive to be cooperative, practical and sensible, and should turn to the courts (or take positions that force others to turn to the courts) only in extraordinary situations that implicate truly significant interests.”) (citation omitted)).
Delaware counsel is expected to attend trial.
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 the need of court involvement.
Trial days customarily 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 Bailiff's Office 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; and
- 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 encourages the use of joint exhibits, whenever possible. 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.