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Judicial Preferences


Judge Sheldon K. Rennie Civil Case Management Preferences


Updated: August 22, 2019

For Attorneys & Legal Staff Only:

Alisha Ramdoo Administrative Specialist
Chambers
Phone: (302) 255-0624


Evette Mosley, Judicial Civil Case Manager
Prothonotary's Office
Phone: (302) 255-2216


Bennett Procter, Law Clerk
Chambers
Phone: (302) 255-0171

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

A letter to Judge Rennie need only be docketed electronically in the subject case. No courtesy copy need be delivered to Judge Rennie's chambers. Instead, an electronic copy, as docketed, should be transmitted via email to Judge Rennie's Administrative Specialist, Civil Case Manager and Law Clerk. 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 each other party or otherwise represent that opposing counsel or the self-represented party could not be reached.

Email should be limited to administrative-type emails to Court and chambers staff except as set forth later in these preferences.

All emails should include the name of the subject case, the civil action number, and should be addressed to Judge Rennie's staff.

Administrative emails are not docketed. Substantive emails must be docketed by the sending party and may be sent only when (a) Judge Rennie has approved such email filing in the subject case or (b) exigent circumstances exist.

Comments or questions from lawyers, paralegals and other legal staff about Judge Rennie's preferences are welcome.

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 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:

Judge Rennie’s Administrative Specialist will contact counsel and/or self-represented parties, via email, to set a trial date within 6 to 8 weeks after answers are filed and/or default judgments are entered. The Court will then issue a Trial Scheduling Order via File & Serve.

Scheduling deadlines on routine, non-complicated cases will be set by Judge Rennie's Administrative Specialist. If any party requests that the scheduling conference be handled in person or telephonically by Judge Rennie, please contact his Administrative Specialist.

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 to Judge Rennie'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.

After receiving a Scheduling Conference date and time, if all counsel believe that an imminent settlement of the case is likely, Plaintiff’s counsel, speaking for all parties, may write the Court requesting the Scheduling Conference's postponement. Unless ordered otherwise, the conference will be indefinitely postponed. Plaintiff's counsel must then submit a status report within sixty days of the date of the postponed conference.

Note:

Scheduling Conferences involving Kent or Sussex County counsel will always be held by teleconference unless the Kent or Sussex County attorney(s) prefer to be present.

At least one sponsoring Delaware attorney per party must participate in the Scheduling Conference with counsel admitted pro hac vice. This appearance may be either by phone or in person.

If mediation resolves the case or in the event the case settles, Plaintiff's counsel should notify chambers immediately by email to Judge Rennie's Administration Specialist, Civil Case Manager, and Law Clerk.

Trial Scheduling Orders:

Judge Rennie uses his standard Trial Scheduling Order (TSO) for most civil cases. The TSO sets forth firm deadlines. Failure to meet deadlines, without good cause, may result in the Court's refusal to allow extensions. TSO amendments must be made by (1) appropriate motion or (2) joint stipulation, and must be ordered by the Court. If a party seeks to extend discovery or expert deadlines, without affecting remaining scheduled dates, the motion or stipulation should so state.

If all counsel think a case has a good chance of settling, and with agreement of all counsel, the Court may 'double-book' counsel for trial as long as all counsel understands the potential necessity to reschedule the latter case.

APPEALS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND COURTS:

If there is an unusual delay in the preparation of the record, Appellant's counsel should write to the Court to advise of the problem. Judge Rennie may take appropriate action to accelerate this process pursuant to the Superior Court Appellate Administrative Order (March 21, 1995). Oral argument is usually held in administrative appeals only if requested. However, the Court may convene a teleconference with counsel after the case's assignment to discuss its possible resolution.

Formatting:

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, courtesy copies of motions, or letters must all be individually tabbed. No briefs, exhibits, or appendices may be clipped or fastened with paper clips, binder clips, or metal three-ring fasteners, but must be stapled or bound. It is preferable to use Westlaw format for case citations to unreported decisions. Exhibits and unreported cases not cited in Westlaw should be physically attached to the briefs and motions unless impractical because of their volume, in which case a separate compendium will be appropriate. When responding to a motion, avoid using terms and phrases typically used in answers to complaints (Admitted, Denied as Stated, etc.) in numbered paragraphs corresponding to the numbered paragraphs in the motion. Instead each argument in the motion should be addressed substantively.

Routine Motions are defined in Paragraph IV.B.3.a. of the NCC Plan. Judge Rennie hears routine motions every Thursday at 9:00 a.m. He may decide to hear a routine motion at a different time, and will so advise counsel. Any attorney should contact Judge Rennie’s chambers if that attorney believes the complexity or length of the argument on a motion suggests that another date and time would be more feasible.

The provisions of Paragraph IV of the NCC Plan and Superior Court Civil Rule 107(b) to the contrary notwithstanding, in Judge Rennie's cases: (1) routine Motions must be filed no less than 15 calendar days prior to the noticed date and (2) responses are due no later than 7 calendar days after the filing of the motion and in no case later than the Friday prior to the motion's hearing. One courtesy copy of both the motion and response (with exhibits) must be filed in chambers. If no response is timely filed, the Court may deem the motion unopposed and grant the motion in advance of the hearing date.

A motion to continue a trial date shall be scheduled as a routine motion.

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 non-opposition in the motion itself (if such non-opposition is known to the movant) in which event no further notification is necessary.

If an Order is entered before the hearing, the Court will promptly notify the attorney for the movant.

Judge Rennie will often refer substantive non-routine discovery motions to a Commissioner. Depending on that Commissioner's availability, the discovery motion may be heard at 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday; otherwise, the Commissioner will schedule a hearing date. Discovery motions are usually referred to a Commissioner immediately before the scheduled routine motion hearing date, and counsel will be so advised.

Dispositive Motions:

Counsel must obtain possible dates and times for oral argument through Judge Rennie's Administrative Specialist. If a party then does not file a dispositive motion within 4 days after obtaining the date and time for oral argument, the scheduled time may be canceled.

The provisions of Paragraph IV of the NCC Plan and Superior Court Civil Rule 107(b) to the contrary notwithstanding, a response (with all supporting authority) to any dispositive motion is due no later than 14 days (excluding weekends and holidays) after the filing of the motion. The original motion, response, and reply should be e-filed with 1 courtesy copy 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) and 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 oral argument.

A Proposed Order must be uploaded separately from any other documents, and filed in editable Word or Word Perfect 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.

Stipulation:

All Delaware counsel/self-represented litigants must sign a stipulation.

If the Stipulation is fully effectuated but does not need the judge's signature to be implemented, the document type should be 'Stipulation' - this document type does not put the document into judicial review.

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 the Tuesday before the trial date. In complex cases, the Court may require that instructions be filed with the Pretrial Stipulation so they may be discussed at the Pretrial Conference. This can help to focus the parties and the Court on the expected formulation of legal issues at trial.

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.

Pretrial Conferences are transcribed by a Court Reporter.

Motions In Limine:

Any particularly significant issue, including Daubert issues, should be raised by motion in limine. Motions in limine are usually filed and responded to well before the Pretrial Conference.

There is no bright line test for whether a legal or evidentiary issue should be (1) raised by a motion in limine, (2) simply identified in a Pretrial Stipulation, or (3) not mentioned at all (if truly minor). If the issue is particularly significant and should be resolved at the Pretrial Conference, a motion in limine should be filed.

The Court will usually rule on all motions in limine at the Pretrial Conference, unless resolution at trial or post-trial is more appropriate. Daubert-type motions in limine will presumptively be decided on a paper record.

Basic Precepts:

Counsel should familiarize themselves with and abide by the courtroom professionalism standards adopted by the Court in 2004. View: Expectations of the Superior Court for Attorneys' Professionalism in a Courtroom Setting (April 18, 2004).

In cases with pro hac vice representation, local counsel is expected to attend trial and will be excused only for good cause. If local counsel has been excused and circumstances develop at trial, Judge Rennie may require local counsel to attend and actively participate in the remainder of the 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 undue delay and unnecessary 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). Judge Rennie will usually meet with counsel in chambers at 9:00 a.m. on the first day of trial.

Counsel desiring a courtroom with specific technology support should contact the Bailiffs' Office (302) 655-0586 or (302) 255-0587 several days before the trial.

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.

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

Court submissions that are likely to be revised by the Court, i.e., proposed jury instructions and voir dire questions, should be submitted in Word format via digital media or other means arranged with Judge Rennie’s chambers staff.