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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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Paul, I have a settlement/pre-trial hearing scheduled for

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I have a settlement/pre-trial hearing scheduled for August 13, and several questions pertaining to that.

1) My understanding is that the opposing counsel and I are expected to file a joint pre-trial statement one week before the hearing. Can you tell me what the purpose and intended content for the pre-trial statement is?

2) How critical is the JPTS? For example, does it need an exhaustive set of exhibits that I intend to use at trial? Does it need to list essentially all the arguments I'll have at trial, or just the main ones?

3) I understand that the JPTS needs to identify expert and fact witnesses that I intend to have testify at trial. Question: how binding is this list? Also, in response to requests for interrogatories, I have identified my expert witnesses. Does this bind me in any way--assuming I have a valid reason for replacing them?

4) I have two problems with respect to my expert witnesses:

a) I need a new legal ethics expert; I had lined up Geoff Hazard to testify about ethical breaches (and based on our discussion he described the defendant's lapses as "egregious", but Hazard is too pricey, and he's in California). I have an alternate, local law school professor lined up.

b) I need a replacement family law/standard of care expert witness. The one I've used so far is refusing to talk to me because my attorney quit, and he's loyal to my attorney (who got him the business) and says he won't work with any other attorneys, or with me pro se.

So: I need time (probably a couple of months) to extend discovery, obtain new experts. How and by when do I need to make a request?

Is it simply a motion to extend discovery (opposing counsel might be willing to accord this).

Also, do I need to write the judge a letter requesting the option to line up new expert witnesses?

I'm really spooked about missing some little deadline, and then being told, sorry, you're out of luck.

1) The Joint Pretrial Statement is a brief overview of the facts and then the specific issues you are going to raise and the other side will list their specific issues that are still in dispute and what issues/facts the parties can agree upon. This lets the judge know what facts are in dispute and what issues they will have to decide at trial.

2) You need to disclose all of your exhibits/evidence and it needs to include all of the issues that are in dispute. You do not need to go into depth on each issue but you just need to briefly explain the issue and why it is a dispute and any case law supporting your side of the issue.

3) If you have a potential that you are going to switch or add expert witnesses, you need to not that in the statement and tell the court you will disclose any new experts within 10 days of any trial.

4) You need to file a motion with the court to extend discovery and you can explain that your particular witness has withdrawn because of loyalty to your attorney and you need time to secure a new expert. You do not write the judge a letter, you file a motion with the court and send a copy to the other party.

As far as changing experts, you can note that in your pretrial statement by stating you were using X expert but have run into a problem where that expert will only work for your attorney and not for you so you need to replace that expert and have filed a motion to extend discovery for that reason.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

This is very helpful. Some follow on questions:

1) Does a settlement/pre-trial hearing pre-suppose that discovery has been completed?

The reason I ask is that discovery and deposition of expert witnesses is still ongoing.

2) If I bring in a new expert witness, say, two weeks before trial, doesn't that prejudice the opposition in that they don't have time to depose the witness?

3) Are depositions of expert witnesses considered to be a part of discovery?

4) How many days before the pre-trial hearing do I need to file a motion to extend discovery?


Yes, and you can negotiate with the other party to stipulate to continue the JTPS and Pre-trial conference based on discovery still being conducted.

Yes, the other party would argue that they are prejudiced by the short notice on the new expert and this is why you need to begin giving them information about the new expert as soon as you can and why you need to move as fast as you can and not drag your feet on getting a new expert. The court looks at those things in deciding whether or not you waited too long to get the new expert.

Depositions of expert witnesses are considered part of discovery and whether or not the other party wants to depose that expert or just use their report (which you have to provide to the other party) is up to the other party.

You need to file it as soon as possible, but not less than 3 days before the hearing. I never wait that close unless it is an emergency that causes the need for the delay. If you know you need to extend discovery and want to continue the conference you should do it as soon as possible.
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