Robert J. Mellon
Courtroom Policies & Procedures
The procedures outlined in this document are to assist the attorneys in the preparation and presentation of any jury trials, non-jury trials, oral arguments and other proceedings before Judge Mellon. To preserve the integrity, dignity and respect for the judicial proceedings, Judge Mellon has adopted a set of rules to preserve the formality of the courtroom. These procedures are not intended to restrict counsel's ability to present their case. Rather, it is the court's belief that these procedures will enhance counsel’s abilities to efficiently and effectively present their case in an atmosphere which preserves the respect and dignity for the court.
- Judge Mellon prefers that all contact with his chambers be in writing, unless otherwise authorized by the court. The attorneys are instructed to make all requests for continuances in writing, after they have contacted other counsel and all are in agreement. If one of the attorneys objects to the request for a continuance, the letter should indicate that not all attorneys agree with the continuance and a telephone conference should be requested. Upon receipt of counsel’s request, Judge Mellon’s chambers will contact the requesting attorney and provide the attorney with three dates for when Judge Mellon is available for a telephone conference; the requesting attorney is responsible for contacting all attorneys to choose one of those dates provided and advise Judge Mellon’s chambers of the agreed upon date. Once a date and time for the conference has been decided, the requesting attorney shall confirm the details of the conference call by sending an email to Judge Mellon’s chambers with all the attorneys’ telephone numbers who will be participating in the conference call. A copy of this letter shall be forwarded to all attorneys participating in the conference call. During the telephone conference, the court will address all issues pertinent to the continuance request.
- All requests for case management conferences, settlement conferences and other requests should be made in writing to chambers. The court will again schedule the teleconference and ask the requesting attorney to coordinate with all other attorneys the date, time and telephone numbers of those attorneys who will be participating in the teleconference. It is the usual practice of Judge Mellon‘s chambers to initiate the teleconference. However, the court does not have the ability to conference more than six participants, including the Judge. If this occurs, the attorney requesting the teleconference would be responsible for initiating the call to all participants.
- Judge Mellon is also available for conferences in his chambers and reserves the right to ask counsel to come to chambers despite a request for a telephone conference.
- Judge Mellon does not want any courtesy copies of any memorandum, motions or other documents sent to his chambers, unless required by rule or requested by the court.
- Upon request of all attorneys in the case, Judge Mellon will hold case management conferences for either a non-date certain or date certain requests. Attorneys wishing to have case management conferences should forward a letter directly to Judge Mellon’s chambers. Also, Judge Mellon will select a case which is more than 3 years old when he reviews a motion or other pleading for a case management conference. The court reserves the right to make the determination as to whether or not it will treat the case as a non-date certain matter.
- Settlement conferences can be scheduled with Judge Mellon upon agreement of all the attorneys. A letter requesting a conference should be submitted to chambers and copied to all counsel. Upon receipt of counsel’s letter, Judge Mellon’s secretary will contact counsel requesting the conference and provide counsel with three dates for which a conference can be scheduled. Counsel will contact all other counsel to coordinate one of the dates. Once an agreed upon date has been reached, requesting counsel will send a confirming email to chambers and all counsel. The conference will take place on the 6th floor of the Justice Center.
- Date Certain Trials are scheduled approximately 9 to 12 months in advance. Counsel should be prepared on a case management conference to present alternative dates when they are not attached in other jurisdictions. If a case is approved for a date certain, the attorneys will be attached for trial immediately and a five-county letter will be sent to the appropriate jurisdictions. No continuances will be granted.
- All attorneys are reminded that proper etiquette requires that all conversations be directed to the court and no individual conversation between the parties should occur during judicial proceedings.
- All attorneys are reminded that proper etiquette requires that all attorneys address parties, witnesses and experts by their proper name and not a familiar first name basis.
- All attorneys are reminded that proper etiquette requires that all attorneys stand when they address the court, either for oral argument, objections or any other purpose.
- All attorneys are reminded that proper etiquette requires that all water bottles and other drinks are not permitted on counsel table or otherwise displayed before the court and jury. The attorneys may bring appropriate containers and use the container to fill a glass or cup.
- All attorneys are reminded that proper etiquette requires that the attorneys instruct their clients, witnesses and experts of the need to address the court and not engage in informal conversation with the attorneys or others in the courtroom while court is in session.
- Judge Mellon’s courtroom, Courtroom 320, is equipped with a podium and exhibit presenting equipment. The attorneys are encouraged to use this equipment in the presentation of their case. The equipment includes a document camera, witness and attorney annotation equipment, DVD player, and cable for the connection with counsel’s computer, for the purpose of displaying exhibits or other documents on counsel’s laptop. Counsel may want to hire their own audiovisual operator for case presentation. They will be permitted to hook into the projector and screen. Any audiovisual consultant is discouraged from bringing their own projector and screen. If counsel wishes to inspect the equipment at any time before trial, arrangements can be made through the courts chambers by a simple telephone request.
- Judge Mellon's courtroom is also equipped with audio equipment at the podium to enhance the acoustics in the room. Counsel is required to conduct all examinations, oral arguments, and other addresses to the court at the podium.
- Attorneys are reminded that if they need easels, markers, shadow boxes, or other materials for their presentation of evidence, they should supply it themselves.
- At the conclusion of trial, all counsel should make arrangements to remove all of their trial materials from the courtroom when the trial is completed. The court is not responsible for storing counsels’ files and/or copies of their trial materials. If there are multiple boxes and/or trial supplies needed for trial, you may want to make arrangements to have those materials brought into the courthouse at the loading dock entrance located on Broad Street. Please contact chambers prior to the trial date so that security can be notified. Please note that you will not be able to park your vehicle at the loading dock. Once you have brought your materials to the loading dock, you will need to park your vehicle in the Bucks County Parking Garage located at Broad and Union Streets. Please note that a shuttle from the parking garage to the Justice Center Main Street entrance is available in the morning.
Civil Trial List Cases
- Motions in Limine and Pre-trial Memorandum shall be heard at the time the case is called to trial, unless otherwise requested by the parties. The motions will be ruled upon prior to the preliminary instructions to the jury. The court will either entertain oral argument before or after the jury selection.
- All attorneys are reminded that a pretrial order is issued prior to the case going to trial. The deadline set forth in the standard pretrial order shall be followed in all non-date certain civil cases. It is particularly important that all attorneys be sure that their pretrial memorandum is timely filed in order that the court has sufficient time to review it prior to trial.
- Deposition testimony of any witness which requires a ruling of the court regarding objections should the presented to the trial judge at the time of the pretrial conference. Counsel should prepare a page and line designation of all objections which they've preserved for trial. The attorneys are required to meet and confer in an effort to eliminate objections that require court rulings.
- All attorneys are reminded to comply with the Civil Rules of Procedure regarding the timeliness, for the exchange of expert reports.
All attorneys are reminded to prepare a suggested verdict slip for the case and present to the court at the beginning of the case. If the case requires, counsel's verdict slip should include any special interrogatories they want considered for submission to the jury.
All attorneys are reminded to prepare suggested jury instructions and present them to the court at the time of the trial. Counsel will be permitted to supplement the suggested jury instructions during trial as issues develop. If counsel is requesting Pennsylvania Suggested Standard Jury Instructions, the attorney should submit a list of the suggested instructions’ numbers and title. Requested jury instructions not included in the standard package should be individually submitted with appropriate authority supporting their inclusion in the case. This includes all statutes or negligence per se charges.