Researching references to -- Pretrial Conference

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Researching references to -- Pretrial Conference

Postby Marina » Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:18 am

Pretrial Conference

Working With the Courts in Child Protection
User Manual Series
Author(s): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Feller, Davidson, Hardin, Horowitz
Year Published: 1992

Overview Of The Civil Child Protective Court Process ... 1&.intl=us

Pretrial Conferences and Negotiating Case Settlements

Although it is not conducted in many courts, a pretrial case conference serves a number of critical purposes in a civil child protection proceeding. Since a child's future hangs in the balance during the pendency of such a proceeding, a fair, thorough, and speedy resolution of the case will always be in the child's best interests. The pretrial conference is designed to promote such a resolution by providing an informal forum for settlement negotiations. If the parties can agree that the child has been abused or neglected (stipulate to an adjudication), further time-consuming court proceedings become unnecessary.30 At the same time, implementation of the child's case plan can be expedited, and additional traumatic division among family members may be avoided.

However, settlement is not always desirable. Some children may feel that their disclosures have not been believed or taken seriously, that they were wrong to tell, or that their abuser is "getting away with it." Depending on the circumstances, children may also feel vulnerable to further abuse. Settlements may have a downside for parents, too. A parent who vehemently denies the abuse or neglect may feel pressured into accepting a settlement that, either explicitly or implicitly, acknowledges his/her responsibility.

Mediation may be particularly appropriate at this point to assist the parties in reaching an agreement nonadversarily.31

Regardless of how cases are settled, case resolution agreements must be properly drafted to create an adequate record for future court involvement, if it becomes necessary. In addition, in order for the family's child welfare agency case plan to be effective, the parties should agree on, not only the outcome of the case, but also on certain material facts underlying the petition as well. Parents, children, and the State or county child welfare agency need proper representation at this stage in the proceeding to ensure that no one is coerced into an agreement, and that the child's interests are reflected in the negotiations.32

If settlement cannot be achieved, the pretrial conference is still important to expedite the coming trial and to keep its length as short as possible. The conference provides an opportunity for identifying and clarifying trial issues, resolving discovery disputes, and encouraging the exchange of information to avoid surprise at trial.33
Last edited by Marina on Sat Jul 08, 2006 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Marina » Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:29 am

By action of the Board of Judges of this Court and pursuant to D.C. Code § 11-946, it is this 21st day of June, 2004: ORDERED that the Family Court of the Superior Court Rules Governing Neglect and Abuse Proceedings are promulgated as set forth below ... 1&.intl=us

Rule 14 (3) Scheduling. The judicial officer shall set the dates for the mediation or pretrial conference.

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Rule 17. Pretrial Conference.

(a) Requirement. There shall be a pretrial conference in each contested case. The time for the pretrial conference shall be set by the judicial officer during the shelter care hearing or initial
hearing or at the conclusion of the mediation hearing. Attorneys who enter the case after that
time shall be notified of the time of the pretrial conference at the time of their first contact
with the court.

(b) Meeting prior to the pretrial conference. Prior to the filing of the pretrial statement, the attorneys who will conduct the trial for each of the parties and any unrepresented parties
shall meet in person. A meeting held immediately after the mediation hearing may satisfy
this requirement. The participants in the meeting shall spend sufficient time together to
thoroughly discuss the case and shall make a good faith effort to reach agreement on the
following matters:
(1) The formulation and simplification of issues, including the elimination of unsupportable claims or defenses;
(2) The necessity or desirability of amendments to the petition;
(3) The admission or stipulation of facts and the authenticity of documents;
(4) The identification of witnesses and documents;
(5) The settlement of the case;
(6) The resolution of pending motions;
(7) The resolution of outstanding discovery issues;
( 8 ) The need for adopting special procedures for managing potentially difficult or protracted actions that may involve complex issues, multiple parties, difficult legal questions or
unusual proof problems; and
(9) Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the action.
(c) Pretrial statement. Not later than two days prior to the pretrial conference, the parties shall file with the Court and deliver to the assigned judicial officer a joint pretrial statement which
shall include a certification of the date and place of the meeting held pursuant to paragraph
(b) of this Rule, shall be in the form prescribed by the Court, and shall also include the
following items:
(1) A list of parties and attorneys;
(2) Whether service of process has been completed on all parties;
(3) The statutory basis for a finding of neglect;
(4) Any dispute over paternity;
(5) Whether a stipulation has been discussed and rejected;
(6) Issues not in dispute;
(7) Issues in dispute;
( 8 ) Discovery problems that have not been resolved;
(9) Outstanding motions;
(10) Names of witnesses, including whether a witness is a fact or expert witness, and the
party calling the witness;
(11) Exhibits and any objections to the admission of specific exhibits as evidence;
(12) Other evidentiary and legal issues which must be resolved at trial;
(13) Identification of special accommodations that may be required by parties or witnesses
such as sign language interpreters, translators, or wheelchair access;
(14) Whether any party is incarcerated and, if so, the location and the party’s police
department identification number, if known;
(15) Any requests for recusal pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-2312(j);
(16) Anticipated length of the trial; and
(17) The signatures of all counsel. (d) Pretrial order. After the pretrial conference, the Court shall enter an order reciting the action taken. Insofar as possible, the Court shall resolve all pending disputes in the pretrial
order. The pretrial order may set limits with respect to the time for opening statement,
examination of witnesses, and closing argument, the number of lay and expert witnesses
each party may call, and the total amount of time each party may have for presentation of the
party’s case.
(e) Additional matters. The Court should address additional matters relating to the placement of the child, visitation, services, and matters covered in Rules 7, 10, 12, 14 and 15 if not
previously resolved at the shelter care or initial hearing.
(f) Obligation to update. Parties shall have a continuing obligation to update information set forth in the joint pretrial statement and/or provided during the pretrial conference.

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Postby Marina » Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:33 am

Supreme Court Arizona
Dependency flow chart ... 1&.intl=us

Settlement Conference / Mediation

Before an adjudication hearing can be held, the law requires that the parties attempt to reach a non-trial resolution of the case through a settlement conference, mediation or pretrial conference. No specific procedure is required, and the court has the discretion to pursue what it believes to be the appropriate course.

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Postby Marina » Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:47 am


Present: Judges Elder, Clements and Agee
Argued at Richmond, Virginia

MARCH 12, 2002

Prentis Smiley, Jr., Judge ... 1&.intl=us

On appeal to the trial court, a pretrial conference for the
four cases was set for November 14, 2000, to allow the trial
judge to "get a feel of [the] time and direction needed for
trial." At the pretrial conference, acting in its own
discretion, the trial court ordered, pursuant to Rule 1:18, DSS
to conduct a "Home Study" of Ange's home and a "Parental
Evaluation" of Ange and DSS and Ange to "complete the 'Best
Interest of the Child' Proffers pursuant to [Code  20-124.3]."
The court further ordered that the proffers were to be filed
with the court by 8:00 a.m. on December 15, 2000, or "the
presence of the parties [would] be required" on that date.
These directives were memorialized in a pretrial scheduling
order entered by the trial court, without objection, on December

- - - - - - -

Upon receipt of DSS's letter of February 12, 2001, the
trial court set a "further pretrial hearing" on the "matters
raised in [DSS's] letter" for March 8, 2001. At that hearing,
the trial court, referencing DSS's letter of February 12, 2001,
found that Ange had "not substantially complied with any of" its
pretrial orders concerning the preparation of the case for
trial, in that she had not "proper[ly] complet[ed] . . . the
Best Interests of the Child Proffers" or "full[y] cooperat[ed]
in the performance of a Home Study and a Parental Evaluation."
Based on its determination that Ange had not complied with
its pretrial orders, the trial court then proceeded, at the
March 8, 2001 hearing, to sanction Ange for her noncompliance by
summarily resolving the four cases involving Ange's children
without benefit of a hearing on the merits. The court summarily
found, "upon the evidence," ...

Ange contends the trial court erred in sanctioning her for
noncompliance with its pretrial orders by summarily terminating
her residual parental rights to three of her children and
approving the placement in permanent foster care of another of
her children without a hearing on the merits.

In this case, DSS continues, the
trial court, "[a]fter five months of patient attempts to obtain
. . . Ange's compliance with its orders," acted within its
discretion in punishing Ange for her noncompliance with its
pretrial orders. According to DSS, "Ange was not entitled to
disregard the orders of the [t]rial [c]ourt in preparing the
case for trial and still have a full hearing on the merits."

- - - - - -

There is no question the trial court had the authority to
sanction Ange for noncompliance with its pretrial orders.

- - - - - -

in addition to
constituting an abuse of discretion on the facts of the case,
the pretrial sanction imposed by the trial court was also
inappropriate because it deprived plaintiff "of his day in
- - - - - - -

The trial court issued its pretrial order of December 13,
2000, pursuant to Rule 1:18. It directed Ange and DSS to file
"Best Interests of the Child Proffers" and DSS to conduct a home
study and parental evaluation.
- - - - - -

The only
time-related directive in the court's initial pretrial order
required Ange and DSS to file their proffers by 8:00 a.m. on
December 15, 2000. DSS met the designated deadline, but Ange
did not. Nor did Ange appear in court at that time.
- - - - - -

We raise these matters not to absolve Ange of her
improprieties, or to suggest that courts give defiant or
reluctant parties the benefit of the doubt before sanctioning
their noncompliance or lead them by the hand through pretrial
proceedings. We intend merely to distinguish this case from
those cases in which a party's noncompliance and disobedience
manifest a clear and total disregard for the court's authority.
Plainly, that is not the case here. Ange's noncompliance was
not absolute. Her lack of compliance was not a complete failure
to comply with the trial court's pretrial orders.

- - - - - -

Thus, while the paramount concern is the best interests of
Ange's children, Ange's rights must also be protected.
Certainly, the efficient resolution of this case is in the
children's best interest, but so, too, is the preservation of
the children's relationship with their mother, if that is found
to be warranted. As plainly shown in the record, the trial
court did not base the imposition of its sanction in this case
on the best interests of Ange's children. Rather, it was
imposed strictly to punish Ange for failing to comply with the
court's pretrial orders.

Thus, given the nature of this case, the severity of the
sanction imposed, Ange's partial compliance with the trial
court's orders, and the need to protect Ange's rights, we
conclude that, in summarily disposing of Ange's appeals from the
juvenile court without a hearing on the merits based on Ange's
noncompliance with the trial court's pretrial orders, the trial
court clearly abused its discretion. Less drastic sanctions
would have served the same purpose of punishing Ange for her

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Postby Marina » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:25 pm


AUGUST 15, 2002
Railroaded for domestic-violence defendants, El Paso County’s “fast track” may not always lead to justice



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