Hon John C. Coughenour
Counsel are directed to consult the Local Rules for the Western District of Washington and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on all matters, which these guidelines do not replace.
Judge Coughenour follows LCR 7 in scheduling matters for consideration by the court. Counsel and pro se parties should follow the guidelines specified in LCR 7(d). The Court may re-note motions as needed to manage its docket.
Parties must comply with the length restrictions specified in LCR 7(e). The Court may decline to consider arguments presented beyond the specified page limits.
This date will be provided to the parties by scheduling order. In general, though, Judge Coughenour sets the dispositive motion cutoff 90 days prior to the trial date. This is to allow sufficient time for the parties to submit responsive briefing, for the Court to consider the motion, and for the parties to adjust their preparation for trial after the ruling. Judge Coughenour will not decrease the amount of time between the dispositive motion cutoff date and the trial date unless the parties set forth an extraordinary basis for doing so.
Counsel from outside of King County may appear by telephone at status conferences, but they must make arrangements with the Courtroom Deputy ahead of time.
1. Discovery. Counsel should be guided by LCR 16 in completing discovery. All discovery—including expert disclosures and all fact and expert depositions—must be completed by the discovery cutoff date.
All discovery matters are to be resolved by agreement if possible. If a ruling is needed as to any discovery questions, and counsel wish to avoid the time and expenses of a written motion, they may obtain an expedited ruling through a telephone conference call to the court at (206) 370−8800.
2. Depositions. Depositions will be conducted in compliance with the following rules:
(a) Examination. If there are multiple parties, each side should ordinarily designate one attorney to conduct the main examination of the deponent, and any questioning by other counsel on that side should be limited to matters not previously covered.
(b) Objections. The only objections that should be raised at the deposition are those involving a privilege against disclosure, or some matter that may be remedied if presented at the time (such as the form of the question or the responsiveness of the answer), or that the question seeks information beyond the scope of discovery. Objections on other grounds are unnecessary and should generally be avoided. All objections should be concise and must not suggest answers to, or otherwise coach, the deponent. Argumentative interruptions will not be permitted.
(c) Directions Not to Answer. Directions to the deponent not to answer are improper, except on the ground of privilege or to enable a party or deponent to present a motion to the court or special master for termination of the deposition on the ground that it is being conducted in bad faith or in such a manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass or oppress the party or the deponent, or for appropriate limitations upon the scope of the depositions (e.g., on the ground that the line of inquiry is not relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence). When a privilege is claimed, the witness should nevertheless answer questions relevant to the existence, extent or waiver of the privilege, such as the date of the communication, who made the statement in question, to whom and in whose presence the statement was made, other persons to whom the statement was made, other persons to whom the contents of the statement have been disclosed, and the general subject matter of the statement.
(d) Responsiveness. Witnesses will be expected to answer all questions directly and without evasion, to the extent of their testimonial knowledge, unless directed by counsel not to answer.
(e) Private Consultation. Private conferences between deponents and their attorneys during the actual taking of the deposition are improper, except for the purpose of determining whether a privilege should be asserted. Unless prohibited by the court for good cause shown, such conferences may, however, be held during normal recesses and adjournments.
(f) Conduct of Examining Counsel. Examining counsel will refrain from asking questions he or she knows to be beyond the legitimate scope of discovery, and from undue repetition.
(g) Courtroom Standard. All counsel and parties should conduct themselves in depositions with the same courtesy and respect for the rules that are required in the courtroom during trial.
1. Jury Instructions and Verdict Forms. In civil cases, proposed jury instructions and verdict forms must be filed by the deadline set in the status conference minutes or in the scheduling order. In criminal cases, proposed jury instructions and verdict forms must be filed at least 7 days before trial.
The parties should submit joint proposed course-of-trial and end-of-trial jury instructions and a joint proposed verdict form, along with a summary table. Each instruction should contain supporting citation and indicate whether it is agreed to or disputed, with argument included for disputed instructions. Instructions should be numbered sequentially. Counsel should submit two copies of proposed jury instructions, one with citations and argument and one without, and should send electronic copies of the clean instructions to the chambers orders inbox at email@example.com.
Counsel is advised that the Court relies primarily on the Ninth Circuit Manual of Model Jury instructions, available at http://www3.ce9.uscourts.gov/jury-instructions/model-civil. The Court will rarely, if ever, deviate from the model instructions’ language.
Counsel should refer to the filing instructions in LCR 51(h) for further instruction on Joint Instructions and Joint Statements of Disputed Instructions.
2. Trial exhibits. The Court must receive all trial exhibits by the morning of trial.
All trial exhibits must be pre-marked by counsel. Exhibit tags can be obtained from the Clerk’s Office.
Plaintiff’s exhibits shall be numbered consecutively starting with number 1. Defendant’s exhibits shall be numbered consecutively starting with number A-1. Duplicated documents shall not be listed twice on the exhibit list. Once a party has identified an exhibit on the exhibit list or in the pretrial order, any party may use it.
Each set of exhibits shall be submitted in a three-ring binder with appropriately numbered tabs. This original, and one copy, should be delivered to the in-court clerk on the morning of trial.
If the exhibit list is revised at any time after it is filed with the Court, counsel shall file a revised exhibit list and provide the Courtroom Deputy with a redlined version indicating the changes.
Jurors have high expectations about the lawyers’ ability to operate the evidence presentation devices in the courtroom. Training is strongly encouraged.
3. Motions in Limine. Counsel should refrain from submitting frivolous or ungrantable motions in limine. Any motions in limine must be presented in a joint brief filed at least 10 days before trial. The brief must: (1) contain an introductory statement summarizing the case and the context for any disputes, with each side drafting its own statement if they cannot agree; (2) present each motion under a separate heading, below which the moving party will state its position and supporting legal authority, and the opposing party will do the same below that; and (3) contain a certification immediately above the signature block stating that the joint brief presents only those disputes on which the parties were unable to reach agreement after meeting and conferring in a good faith attempt to do so. The brief must not exceed 16 pages, excluding caption, date line, and signature block, with each party contributing no more than eight pages of total text. Each party may submit a declaration, but only to the extent necessary to provide documents without which the party believes the Court cannot consider the issues presented.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) and Local Civil Rule 55(a), default is a two-step process. To obtain default judgment under Rule 55, a plaintiff must first request entry of default from the Clerk of the Court and then, after the Clerk has issued an entry of default, apply to the Court for default judgment. The motion for default judgment should be filed promptly after the Clerk of Court grants the entry of default.
Under LCR 7(b)(1), all motions for default, just like all other motions, must be properly supported in order to receive the relief requested. Judge Coughenour will deny motions for default judgment that do not provide sufficient information for the Court to enter judgment. Plaintiffs should be guided by the following considerations:
- Plaintiffs shall support a motion for default judgment with a declaration.
- Plaintiffs shall separately state the amounts owing on the principal claim, liquidated damages (if applicable), pre- and post-judgment interest on the principal claim (if applicable), and reasonable attorneys fees (if applicable).
- Plaintiffs shall provide a concise explanation of how all amounts were calculated, and shall support this explanation with adequate evidence establishing the amount of the principal claim, the interest owing, the attorneys fees, and other relevant amounts.
- If the claim is based on a contract, Plaintiff shall provide the Court with a copy of the contract and draw the Court’s attention to the relevant provisions.
- If an interest rate other than that provided by 28 U.S.C. § 1961 applies, Plaintiffs shall state the rate and the reasons for applying it, and include all interest calculations.