Judge Baldi expects the following procedures to be followed by the parties and counsel in all Dependency Court matters.
- General Procedures
- Requests for Continuances
- Request for Add-Ons
- Attendance at Hearings
- Witness/Party Availability By Phone
- Requests by Bucks County C&Y for Emergency Ex Parte Orders
- Parties and counsel should arrive prior to the call of the list, and speak with one another, so that during the calling of the list the parties will be able to offer an estimate as to how long their matter will take.
- After the calling of the list, while waiting for their case to be called, all attorneys, case workers and clients should remain in the immediate waiting area near the sign in desk, so that they will be available when their case is called.
- Cases will be called, generally, in an order of priority which takes into consideration whether or not children will be present, people being detained in a holding cell, people's availability to testify by phone, etc. Generally, shorter matters (agreements) will be taken before longer matters. Cases will be listed on a board in the waiting area in the order in which they will be called.
- If you are one of the top three cases listed you must remain available to come into the Courtroom immediately when called.
- When you enter the Courtroom, make sure all persons involved with your presentation enter with you, and are available in Court, so that the matter can proceed promptly.
- When your case is concluded you should exit promptly after the hearing.
- Agreements and non-disputed matters will generally be given priority and heard before contested matters. Therefore, if a case is placed on the list as an agreement or a non-disputed matter, but during the presentation of the case disputes arise in the Courtroom, the proceeding will be adjourned to allow other agreements or non-disputed matters to be completed. Under those circumstances, the parties will be excused while other matters proceed forward, and they will be called back later on in the day.
- When the Court schedules a recess or a lunch break, all parties should return to the waiting area, in time to be available when Court reconvenes at the appointed time.
All requests for continuances shall be in writing by fax or email. The request must include such information as the purpose for the continuance, the positions of all other parties and what date the parties have agreed to continue it to. A proposed Order should be included with the letter, with the appropriate caption and docket number, and the new requested hearing date.
Requests for add-ons must be in writing (emails are preferable), with copies to all counsel of record. For purposes of this requirement, the GAL's office shall always be contacted, because all cases involve children. The requests for add-ons must be submitted no later than the Thursday preceding the C&Y week.
Judge's Chambers will provide a copy of the "add-on" list, which will show the cases that were added to any given day. If a case is not listed on the "add-on" list, then it will not be heard on that day. The purpose of this procedure is to avoid discussions in Court about whether or not someone knew that a case was specifically listed.
It is the responsibility of the Solicitor for Children and Youth and the GAL to review the lists as it exists the week before the C&Y week to be sure that the list is accurate and up to date.
All parents are expected to attend hearings involving their children. Attendance allows the Court to have eye to eye contact and communication with the parties. This is a very important component of the process. Nonetheless, if a parent cannot attend a hearing, for reasons beyond their control, the parent must notify his/her attorney at least one week prior to the hearing, to allow the attorney time to make arrangements for testimony by phone. The attorney shall contact all other attorneys and request their agreement. After communicating with all other attorneys, the attorney should send an email to Judge’s Chambers, explaining the reason the parent wishes to appear by telephone (i.e.: missing work and missing income), along with all other counsel’s position regarding that request. The Court will then advise counsel whether or not the request has been granted.
Special requests need not be made for parents or witnesses incarcerated or in residential treatment programs. Counsel and parents may assume that telephone communication will be acceptable for people incarcerated or in residential treatment programs; however, there is a shared responsibility between the parents, the case works, and the parents’ attorneys, to make whatever arrangements are necessary with the institution to facilitate the parent’s availability for phone communication.
All children age five and older need to appear for their hearing, except for an IPR or any other hearing where a request to waive the child’s presence has been made by the GAL’s office and granted by the Judge. All requests should be in writing (emails are preferable) and must be made the Wednesday before the scheduled court term unless there are exigent circumstances.
Advanced Communication Technology (ACT) may be utilized for the convenience of witnesses, or parties. Most Courtrooms have the availability to provide telephone testimony through the Court’s sound system. Parties wishing to utilize that service must provide advanced notice to other parties, and to the Court.
Whenever the agency feels compelled to obtain an ex parte emergency Order from the Court, the agency shall, before contacting Judge Baldi on an ex parte basis, contact the GAL assigned to the case or the GAL’s office to make all best efforts to have a GAL on the phone, or present when the request for an ex parte Order is made. The GAL’s office and the agency may create their own specific procedures as far as when and how they each contact one another on a day to day basis, in order to comply with the intent of this Standard Operating Procedure.
Whenever an ex parte Order is issued, the party requesting the Order shall forward, by email, to Judge Baldi’s Judicial Administrative Assistant, a brief statement as to the nature of the request, and the Order issued including any specifics with respect to the scheduling of a hearing, pursuant to the request for an emergency Order. This email shall be sent within one hour of the issuance of the Order.