The Delaware State Courts will be closed on Friday, April 10, 2020 in observance of Good Friday. Justice of the Peace Courts 11 (New Castle County), 7 (Kent County) and 3 (Sussex County) will remain open.

Delaware Court facilities ordered closed to the public until April 15, 2020. Read more...

For the latest on the Delaware Judiciary response to COVID-19 please visit this page.

Judicial Preferences


Judge Meghan A. Adams Civil Case Management Preferences


Updated: November 4, 2019

For Attorneys & Legal Staff Only:

Lauren Stickels, Administrative Specialist
Chambers
Phone: (302) 255-0634


Sydney Revell, Judicial Civil Case Manager
Prothonotary's Office
Phone: (302) 255-0704


Chelsea Hicking Conway, Law Clerk
Chambers
Phone: (302) 255-0160


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.

General Communication Preferences

All communications addressed to the Court or its staff, whether by motion, letter, or email, must include the name of the case, the civil action number, and the name of the party whom communicating counsel represents.

Any letter to the Court requesting court action of some kind (in instances where a motion is not otherwise appropriate) must state the position of all parties or otherwise must represent that opposing counsel or a self-represented party could not be reached despite reasonable efforts. Whenever possible, Judge Adams prefers requests for Court action to be submitted by motion, rather than by letter, with a Notice of Motion and Certificate of Service, as well as a proposed Form of Order so 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 Adams. All correspondence must be signed by a Delaware attorney in the law firm of the attorney of record and must be copied to opposing counsel.

A teleconference with the Court may be requested by contacting Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist. Counsel requesting the teleconference will be expected to initiate the call.

Judge Adams makes every effort to be available by teleconference to resolve disputes that arise during depositions, or to address other matters requiring expedited consideration. If counsel anticipates that issues are likely to arise during a deposition, it is helpful to alert chambers in advance.

Comments or questions from lawyers, paralegals, and other legal staff about Judge Adams’s preferences are welcome and should be directed to Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist and Civil Case Manager.

 

Email-Specific Preferences

In addition to Judge Adams’s general preferences regarding communications, counsel or staff utilizing email should be aware of the following:

All substantive and some administrative emails are docketed and always must include the civil action number. The use of email is not permitted when the case includes a self-represented party, unless previously authorized by Judge Adams.

Subject to the foregoing restriction on emails in cases regarding self-represented litigants, substantive email messages may be directed to Judge Adams either: (a) with Judge Adams’s advance approval; or (b) where exigent circumstances so require. Under these circumstances, email messages must be copied to all Delaware counsel of record, Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist, and Judge Adams’s Law Clerk.

Administrative email messages should not be sent to Judge Adams unless they are not appropriate to send to Court staff. Administrative emails may be sent to Court staff if all parties are represented by counsel and are copied on the email.

RELATED CASES:

Counsel always should 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 a later-filed, related civil case was assigned to a different judge, please promptly notify the Judicial Case Manager for the judge assigned to the later-filed case.


ANSWERS TO COMPLAINTS, CROSS-CLAIMS, COUNTERCLAIMS and THIRD-PARTY COMPLAINTS:
 

No answer that complies with Superior Court Civil Rules 7 and 8 will be rejected; however, the Court prefers answers to re-state the corresponding allegation from the complaint, cross-claim, counterclaim or third-party complaint and then state the answer beneath.

INITIAL SCHEDULING CONFERENCES:

After all responsive pleading(s) are filed, or default judgments entered where appropriate, counsel will be contacted by the Judge’s Administrative Specialist via email to have an in-person trial scheduling conference. Delaware counsel and counsel admitted pro hac vice who are expected to play a substantive role in the matter are required to attend. Delaware counsel may request that pro hac vice counsel appear by telephone. Scheduling conferences are held in Chambers. After the scheduling conference, the Court will issue a Trial Scheduling Order via File & Serve.

Another attorney in the law firm of counsel for a party (other than the attorney(s) who signed the complaint or the responsive pleading) may attend the scheduling conference provided: (1) that attorney has a basic understanding of the case, (2) the case is not particularly complex, and (3) the attorney knows the trial attorney’s trial availability. If counsel other than a signatory of the complaint or the responsive pleading plans to attend, that counsel should notify chambers at least the day before the scheduling conference by phone or email to Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist. If appropriate, counsel should confer about potential mediators before the scheduling conference. A directory of court-trained mediators is available on the Court’s Web site. Counsel attending the Scheduling Conference should have authority to agree to a specific mediator, if at all possible.

If a case requires expedited treatment, counsel should file an appropriate motion and notify the Court as soon as possible.

If any counsel believes a scheduling order should have been issued, and none has been issued, counsel should contact Judge Adams’s Civil Case Manager to inquire about the delay. Reminder: a scheduling order is issued only after all defendants or third-party defendants have: (1) filed responsive pleadings, or (2) had default judgments entered against them.

If any of the parties are self-represented, the Court will conduct a scheduling conference to be held in the courtroom on the record.

TRIAL SCHEDULING ORDERS:

Civil cases will be scheduled for trial in the SECOND and FOURTH quarters of each calendar year.

Judge Adams uses her standard Trial Scheduling Order for most civil cases. Trial Scheduling Orders establish firm deadlines. Failure to meet deadlines, without good cause, may result in the Court's refusal to allow extensions. Requests to amend scheduling and case management orders must be made:

  1. By Stipulation. The parties may stipulate to modification of a Trial Scheduling Order, subject to approval by the Court. Any requests to materially (i.e., more than a week) shorten the amount of time provided for the Court's consideration of dispositive motions, Daubert motions, and motions in limine likely will be denied absent an explanation from the parties as to why counsel could not, through the exercise of diligence, meet the existing deadline. Parties must use the Stipulated Amended Case Scheduling Order form for any stipulations/proposed orders to amend the Trial Scheduling Order, including the current deadline for each event and the proposed deadline for each event, whether or not the proposed order anticipates amendment of each date. Including all dates on the new TSO permits easy reference going forward.
  2. By Motion. If the parties are unable to agree to a modified schedule, after conferring in good faith, the party seeking modification may file a motion to modify the Trial Scheduling Order, which should be noticed as a routine motion. See above regarding requests to alter materially the deadlines for motion practice.

APPEALS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND COURTS:

If there is an unusual delay in preparation of the record, counsel for appellant(s) should write to the Court to advise of the problem. Judge Adams 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, but may be requested by counsel or may be scheduled by the Court as Judge Adams deems necessary.

FORMATTING:

All briefs and motions must have numbered pages, no less than one-inch margins, and be written in Times New Roman 14 pt. type and double-spaced. The Court prefers briefs, exhibits, or appendices to be stapled or bound. Contrary to the NCC Plan, appendices may exceed 25 pages as necessary.

Exhibits to briefs, chambers copies of motions, or letters must be tabbed individually. Judge Adams prefers spiral binding or other bindings that allow the brief to lay flat when opened. Please give thought to the size of your courtesy copies; if the bound copy would be more than 3 inches thick, consider separating the copy into two volumes. Counsel are encouraged to use double-sided copying or printing for hard copies submitted to chambers.

CITATIONS AND COMPENDIA:

Citations to unreported decisions should be to the Westlaw citation where possible. The Superior Court presently does not have ready access to Lexis. Contrary to Superior Court Civil Rule 107(g), if citations to unreported decisions are to the Westlaw cite, Judge Adams does not need a compendium of unreported decisions. If counsel does not have access to Westlaw, or if the decision is not available on Westlaw, a copy of unreported decisions should be provided.

If counsel is relying on a treatise or other secondary source to support an important issue, it is helpful to provide a copy of the table of contents and the excerpt relied upon, unless it is a secondary source readily available to the Court, such as a law review article, Restatement section, or Delaware treatise.

COURTESY COPIES:

Two courtesy copies of all motions and briefs must be sent to chambers, other than motions to admit counsel pro hac vice. Courtesy copies should not be sent until the filing is accepted by the Prothonotary. The cover page of the courtesy copies should have the File & Serve Transaction ID Number printed on it. 

Only one copy of appendices or compendia need be sent to chambers. If the appendices or exhibits are voluminous, i.e. would fill more than half a banker’s box, counsel are encouraged to attach certain key documents, for example contracts or expert reports, as exhibits to the brief and provide all other documents in an appendix contained on a disc or thumb drive. 

ROUTINE MOTIONS:

Judge Adams hears routine motions every Thursday at 9:15 a.m. Routine motions do not include dispositive motions, Daubert motions, motions in limine, or any other motion that is likely to require more than twenty minutes to resolve. Counsel may contact Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist if a motion that typically would be heard on the routine calendar is sufficiently complex that it requires a longer hearing. Motions for Default Judgment may be heard on the routine calendar. 

Routine motions must be filed 10 days (excluding weekends and holidays) before the noticed date. Responses are due the Friday before the noticed hearing. Two courtesy copies of both the motion and response must be sent promptly to chambers. The motion and the response shall not exceed six pages unless the party first obtains permission to exceed the page limit. Parties who seek to exceed the page limit should file a letter, at least two days before the deadline for the filing, requesting permission to exceed the page limit, specifying the number of additional pages sought, and indicating opposing counsel’s position on the request. Judge Adams typically rules on such requests within a day. 

If no timely response is filed, and all parties to whom the motion relates are represented by counsel, the Court may deem the motion unopposed and grant it without a hearing. If a party does not oppose a routine motion, that party’s counsel should so notify the court by letter as soon as possible and should not wait until the date of their response if possible. If a motion is unopposed, the moving party should so state in the motion itself, in which event no further notification is necessary. 

MOTIONS IN LIMINE:

Any particularly significant evidentiary issue, other than Daubert motions, shall be raised by a motion in limine. Counsel should notice motions in limine to be heard at the pre-trial conference. The motion and response must be e-filed, with two courtesy copies delivered promptly to chambers. Unless a specific order entered in the case provides otherwise, a response (with all supporting authority) is due no later than 7 business days after the motion in limine is filed. Failure to file a timely response may result in the Court deeming the motion unopposed. The motion and response shall not exceed 4,000 words unless permission previously has been granted to exceed the word limit. Refer to dispositive motions, below, regarding requests to exceed the word limit. 

DISPOSITIVE AND DAUBERT MOTIONS:

Dispositive motions and Daubert motions shall be noticed at the convenience of the Court. Counsel should then work together to put together a briefing schedule. After all papers have been submitted, Counsel must obtain possible dates and times for oral argument through Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist. 

Two courtesy copies of the motion, response, and reply must be delivered promptly to chambers. The motion and response shall not exceed 8,000 words. The reply shall not exceed 5,500 words, unless permission previously has been granted to exceed that word limit. 

Counsel who seeks to exceed the word limit should file a letter, at least two business days before the deadline for the filing, requesting permission to exceed the word limit, specifying the number of additional words sought, and indicating opposing counsel’s position on the request. Judge Adams typically rules on such requests within a day.

PROPOSED ORDERS:

A proposed order must be uploaded separately from any other documents, and filed in editable Word format. The proposed order must include a line for Judge Adams’s signature. The document title must state with particularity what motion the proposed order addresses (for example, “Proposed Order Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment”). The filing also must be linked to the documents to which the proposed order refers or applies.

STIPULATIONS:
All Delaware counsel and/or self-represented litigants must sign a stipulation before it will be considered by the Court.

If the Stipulation is signed by all parties, and does not need the judge’s signature to be effective, the document type should be “Stipulation” - this document type does not put the document into judicial review. All stipulations to alter scheduling orders, to vacate a trial date, or any other matter likely to affect the Court or its schedule require the judge’s signature. When in doubt, counsel should file a stipulation as one requiring the judge’s signature.

PRETRIAL STIPULATIONS:

Counsel are required 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 wherever possible. Issues that could have been raised at the pretrial conference, or in the pretrial stipulation, but are not, are likely to be deemed waived. Pre-trial stipulations are due ten (10) business days prior to the pre-trial conference. 

JURY INSTRUCTIONS:

Proposed jury instructions are due the Wednesday before the trial date. Counsel shall discuss and attempt to agree upon appropriate jury instructions. If any instruction or portion of an instruction is disputed, or if the parties are requesting alternate instructions, counsel shall include within the proposed instruction a citation to the legal authorities counsel contends support his or her client’s position. Parties may submit during trial additional proposed instructions that may be justified by the evidence presented, or circumstances arising, during trial.

Judge Adams will conduct a conference with counsel at 9:00 a.m. the morning trial begins to discuss jury instructions and any other last-minute issues. 

Court submissions that are likely to be revised by the Court, i.e., proposed jury instructions and voir dire questions, shall be submitted in Microsoft Word to Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist. Jury instructions shall be submitted with a table of contents.

PRETRIAL CONFERENCES:

Trial counsel, including counsel admitted pro hac vice and Delaware counsel, 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 if a request is sent to Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist sufficiently in advance of the conference. Pre-trial conferences are transcribed.

MOTIONS IN LIMINE: See Motions, above.

SETTLEMENTS:

If a pending case is resolved, Plaintiff's counsel should notify Chambers immediately via email to Judge Adams’s Administrative Specialist, Case Manager and Law Clerk. As a general rule, proper documentation should be submitted to the Court within thirty (30) days of settlement, or Plaintiff’s counsel should file a status report if documentation has not been finalized. If, however, a case resolves less than thirty (30) days before 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.

BASIC PRECEPTS:

Delaware counsel are expected to attend trial. Delaware counsel at all times should 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 periodic shorter recesses), except for the first day of trial, which begins at 9:00 a.m.

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

Counsel intending to present any evidence via electronic media (e.g., audio, video, DVD, etc.) should: 1) confer with opposing counsel to ensure all necessary redactions or revisions are completed before the start of trial; 2) ensure the media source is compatible with the Court's courtroom technology; 3) ensure that counsel or someone employed by counsel is available and competent to present the evidence at trial; and 4) 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. (In cases involving a high volume of exhibits, however, hard copies may not be feasible.)

The Court encourages the use of joint exhibits, whenever possible. Witness binders are helpful. 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.

Counsel requiring use of an interpreter shall contact the Court Interpreter Coordinator at (302) 255-0166. Counsel, not the Court, is responsible for coordinating the appearance of a court-certified interpreter for all court appearances.

Counsel shall avoid “speaking” objections. In a jury trial, Judge Adams ordinarily will address substantive objections at sidebar. Objections as to form will be resolved immediately and 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. After each proceeding or trial day, counsel should ensure that the area is neatly arranged and all trash has been disposed.

The Court expects all counsel to act in a manner consistent with the highest principles of ethics and professionalism.