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(A) Motion Hearings. A motion hearing is a pretrial proceeding in the matter which takes place when a party has asked the Court to order something be done in connection with a pending case. Hearings on motions are not automatic. Motions may be filed to add or eliminate parties, to amend pleadings, to request a continuance, to modify a Court order based on changed circumstances, to compel witnesses or discovery, to dismiss or transfer a case to another jurisdiction, or to otherwise prepare or simplify a case for trial.

(B) Pretrial Conference Hearings. Conference hearings may be scheduled on request of one (1) or more parties, or on the Court’s own initiative. Unless the parties request an earlier date, the Court shall hold a pretrial conference hearing no later than sixty (60) calendar days after the first response to the petition is filed. The purpose of the conference hearing is to simplify the resolution of the case, to discourage wasteful pretrial activities, and to improve the quality and speed of the trial by discussing such things as settlement prospects, facts and issues not in dispute, evidence to be presented, and appropriate witnesses. At the end of the conference the judge may go on the record to record any agreements of the parties, evidentiary rulings, scheduling orders, or any other settled issues. Except as to applications normally considered and acted upon ex parte, before any attorney/advocate or party shall confer, or arrange to confer, with a judge of this Court in chambers relative to a matter then pending, he/she shall first give notice of the date and hour of the proposed conference to opposing counsel/advocate; or, if counsel/advocate is unknown, to the opposing party. The requesting party will provide proof to the judge that this has been done.

(C) Trial. A trial is the hearing of the case on its merits, and is held after the parties have had a reasonable time to prepare their cases. Generally, trials will be set on a written request from one (1) or more parties, or at a conference hearing. Unless, all parties have previously requested a trial, at the pre­trial conference hearing, the Court shall advise the parties of their right to a trial. Trials shall be set for hearing as soon as reasonably possible after receipt of a request for trial or after the finding by a judge that settlement is not likely, consistent with the rights of all parties to have time to prepare their cases.

(D) Proceedings in Open Court and Exceptions. Proceedings involving minors and the welfare of minors shall be closed to all persons, except the parties, their representatives, including spokespersons and advocates, if any, and such witnesses as may be allowed by the Court. For good cause shown, the Court may direct that other proceedings also be closed to persons other than parties, representatives, and witnesses. The Court shall advise the parties and any witnesses of their due process rights when appropriate and necessary.

(E) Witnesses. All witnesses, prior to their tesimony, shall be administered an oath by the Clerk of the Court or judge similar to as follows: “You do now solemnly swear (or affirm) the testimony you are to give in the matter now pending before this court to be the truth and nothing but the truth.” If a person is called as a witness and it appears to the Court that the testimony or other evidence being sought may tend to incriminate the witness, the Court shall advise the witness of the privilege against self-incrimination, the possible consequences of testifying, and the right to retain their own legal counsel in such cases.

(F) Subpoenas. Any party shall have the right to compel witnesses to appear in court to testify on his/her behalf. A subpoena compelling the testimony of a witness or a subpoena for production of books, records, documents, or any other physical evidence relevant to the determination of the case, shall be issued by the Court upon request by a self-represented party, or an advocate or attorney representing a client in a pending matter. Service shall be done in accordance with these Rules, or may be electronic if so agreed by the parties. Upon service, a proof of service shall be filed with the Court specifying the date, place and manner of service. The Court may schedule an additional pretrial conference hearing to arrange scheduling and exchange of witness information in preparation for trial.

(G) Subpoena for Records – Nonparty. When a subpoena for records is served upon a business, hospital or other health care facility that is not a party to the action, the custodian of records or other qualified witness of the subpoened entity must hand deliver or send by registered mail a copy of all the records described in the subpoena to the Court Clerk, along with an affidavit which includes the following:

(1) That the affiant is the duly authorized custodian of the records and has authority to certify the records.

(2) That the copy is a true copy of all records described in the subpoena.

(3) That the records were prepared by the personnel of the business, hospital or facility, staff physicians, or persons acting under the control of either in the ordinary course of the business of the business, hospital or facility at or near the time of the act, condition, or event.

If the business, hospital or facility has none of the records described, or only part thereof, the custodian shall so state in the affidavit.

(H) Telephone or Other Appearances. The Court will allow, with prior approval, telephonic or other electronic appearances in special circumstances to accommodate parties and/or spokespersons.

(I) Continuances of Hearings and Trials. Continuances of hearings and trials are disfavored and will be granted only on a showing of good cause, and on a request in writing, made as far in advance of the hearing as reasonably possible. Copies of any such requests shall be served on all other parties. In determining whether or not there is good cause to grant a request for a continuance, the Court may consider, among other things, the reason claimed, the timing of the request, the relative importance of having the hearing or trial at the scheduled time, and whether or not the requesting party has requested previous continuances. This list is not exclusive.

(J) Failure to Appear at Hearing or Trial – Sanctions/Contempt of Court. If a party or parties fail(s) to appear at a properly scheduled and noticed hearing or trial, the Court may impose sanctions provided it has issued an order to show cause and given the party the opportunity to be heard regarding why such sanctions should not be imposed. In addition to such other penalties as may be prescribed by law, sanctions may, depending on the circumstances, include entering a ruling in favor of the appearing party or parties, holding a party in contempt of court, or a continuance of the hearing or trial with sanctions, such as a fine, being imposed. Law enforcement may enforce this Rule. [General Order 19-001, 6/21/2019.]