A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Broken Phone
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Last year, the District of Delaware implemented a policy prohibiting most people who do not have a bar card from using personal electronics to the courthouse.

Notably, as of this month, Delaware phased out physical bar cards in favor of a printable version. I've had no trouble getting in with the printed bar card, so far, but I've heard secondhand that others may have had issues.

But what happens when out-of-town attorneys don't have a bar card at all, and need to use their personal electronics during the hearing? They must file a motion (or stipulation) and ask for an exemption from the rule.

So far, the Court has generally been willing to grant exceptions to the rule, at least if the stipulation or motion identifies why each individual needs to use electronics during the proceeding.

This week, however, we saw a new order from Chief Judge Connolly limiting a party to three exceptions:

ORAL ORDER: The parties' motions for exemptions from the Court's May 15, 2023 Standing Order regarding electronic devices (D.I. 424 ; D.I. 425 ) are DENIED. Each party may designate no more than three individuals for whom it seeks an exemption from the Standing Order. For each individual, the party shall state in its application for an exemption why that individual requires the use of an electronic device in the Courthouse.

Natera, Inc. v. CareDX, Inc., C.A. No. 20-038-CFC-CJB (D. Del. Jan. 8, 2024).

One party had requested leave for eight "Lead Counsel" attorneys to bring electronics in for the pretrial conference. The party had set out two reasons its attorneys needed electronics:

The following persons intend to appear at the pretrial conference, require access to their electronic devices, including personal computers for the presentation of slides and cell phones to allow for communication with the client and team members not present in the courtroom.

Id., D.I. 242, at ¶ 3.

The second party had moved for an exemption for 10 non-attorneys, including paralegals, IT consultants, expert witnesses (called it!), and corporate representatives, and identified each individual's role—but offered no further detail.

Listing the role of each individual (e.g., "Lead Counsel for [Plaintiff]") and listing "Esquire" after each attorney alone has previously been enough for at least one judge. My read of this order is that the Court is likely looking for more than that here—maybe something like plaintiff's stated reasons (presentation of slides and client/team communications), but for no more than three individuals.

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