Magistrate brain dump


Following up on my last entry, another presentation at the federal  judicial conference was a view from the Magistrate Judges (Judges Kravchuk and Rich), moderated by Pierce Atwood’s Jim Erwin.  Once again, while this was primarily a view from the trial level trenches, there are always useful items to be gleaned.

First, MJ Rich describes his first six months as a newbie, giving kudos to his clerks, Arlyn Weeks and ex-Pierce Atwood-ite Susanni Douville.  You go girls.

Then there were discussions about initial disclosures, motions to enlarge, discovery disputes and the other matters which magistrate judges deal with on a regular basis.  Comments included:

– MJ Kravchuk reminded everyone to keep MRCivP 1 in mind – look at the last sentence (the rules should be construed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action).  In other words, keep the big picture in mind and don’t be a hissy fit jerk (this is my translation, not her words).

– similarly, both MJs noted that the experience counts:  the more the lawyers before them understand the process, the better; disputes seem to arise when an out of state lawyer without local counsel familiar with the court was involved.

– the court will ordinarily hold you to your agreement – if you agree to a certain procedure re ESI, then it will be an uphill battle to change it.

–  to resolve a dispute about something like whether some material can be discovered in the bowels of a party’s electronic servers etc., it’s useful not just to have two lawyers before the MJ going "yes it is," and "no it isn’t."  Get the tech weenies involved; the MJs need education, not whineypants lawyers saying things they can’t assess (again my translation).

Each of these general principles applies in the appellate context – look at the big picture, experience counts, watch out for waivers and don’t just argue, educate.