A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Visiting Judges

Just imports - no exports? No, he's an importer and exporter.

Judge Choe-Groves, of the Court of International Trade, has been newly added to the list of Delaware’s visiting judges. In early November, she was reassigned a first handful of cases.

[Thanks to an unnamed colleague who mentioned this fact in passing today and expressed surprise that we hadn’t highlighted it on the blog. Keep giving us feedback - we love it!]

Judge Choe-Groves has served as a visiting judge in several other jurisdictions including the Southern District of New York, District of Idaho, Northern District of Oklahoma, and United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Not all of Judge Choe-Groves’ visiting assignments have been patent cases. In fact, most of her earlier assignments appear to be …

The Climate Reality Project, Unsplash

We've written before about the risks of a deponent consulting with counsel during a deposition. This week, visiting Judge Wolson ordered a deposition reopened after counsel did just that:

AND NOW, this 27th day of November, 2023, upon consideration of Stragent’s Motion For Sanctions Against VCUSA Pursuant To Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 30(d)(2) For VCUSA’s Violation Of Local Rule 30.6 And Established Law (D.I. 100), and for the reasons set forth on the record during a hearing with the Parties, it is ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:
1. The Motion is GRANTED, to the extent Stragent seeks to reopen the deposition of [the deponent] …

At a hearing today, Judge Kennelly set forth his preferences on how parties files documents in CM/ECF. He explained that he deals with all filings electronically, and large exhibits as permitted by the Delaware CM/ECF system interfere with his work flow.

He threatened to deny motions going forward (at least in that case) if parties combine exhibits in that way, specifically pointing to the following docket item:

Judge Kennelly Example

As you can see in the highlight, the party combined multiple exhibits into sub-filings, which makes it difficult and slow to download, and impossible to download individual exhibits.

Judge Kennelly prefers that parties do it this way:

Judge Kennelly Example - Correct

Visiting Judge Wolson has expressed similar concerns for similar reasons, and his procedures go a step …

Two stories for your consideration:

A Tale of Mounting Frustration

Over the last couple weeks, I've been tasked with going through the pile of resumes the firm received for various OCI's. Presented with a spreadsheet and 3,000 page pdf of resumes and related ephemera, I diligently set to work ranking the applicants with helpful notes for a second round of review.

At the start of the day, this usually looked something like:

Tier 1, obviously read Plain English For Lawyers and had good grasp of more difficult bluebooking rules, vacationed in Rehoboth as a youth, Likes crabs.
You and I are gonna get along just fine
You and I are gonna get along just fine Alejandro Alas, Unsplash

Inevitably, though, as the day wore on, my blood sugar would slowly sink until they looked more like:

Tier 1000, name rhymes with fart, hard pass

This was usually my cue to stop and revise my last couple entries the next day.

A Tale of Rising Spirits

During law school my wife and I would frequently kill a couple hours on a weekend going to tastings at the 100 or so wineries around Ithaca that ranged from "pretty good" to "proof that karma is real and that you were a mosquito in a past life."

One of the rules of a tasting trip is to spend your money fast and early. The farther into the trip you get, the looser the standards. We forgot this rule one summer—returning for a visit after several years—and set out for a 10 winery tour with high spirits.

At the 8th winery, I smelled my glass, thought for a moment, and passed it to my wife.

"what does this smell like to you?"

She sniffed and grimaced, responding, "cat pee?"

"Exactly," I said. "It's not bad otherwise though."

We bought a case, which sits in my basement to this day "aging."

Raoul Droog, Unsplash

The Legal Implications

I bring this up not (only) to pad the post, but instead to ask if either phenomena can be observed in the Court. To put a finer point on it—is there some correlation between how many times a given judge has decided a motion, and how likely they are to grant it?

I don't ask this question in a vacuum. The Court's recent round of referrals to visiting judges have caused litigants to consider whether they might be better off with a judge sitting in one of the busiest patent courts in the nation, or a visiting judge with a less extensive track record in patent matters (generally speaking, as you'll see below several of the visiting judges have a huge number of prior patent cases). Naturally, there is some value in having more data points on a judge regardless of any substantive effect, but one wonders: am I better off posing my motion to a judge who's seen the like 1,000 times, or 10?

The methodology here was simple. Pick a fairly common issue (I chose 101 motions) and chart ...

Jacob Culp, Unsplash

Over the last two weeks, Chief Judge Connolly issued orders in about 15 different groups of cases offering the choice between consenting to magistrate judges Burke (in some cases) or Fallon (in other cases), or being referred to a visiting judge:

ORAL ORDER: It is HEREBY ORDERED that on or before June 13, 2023, the parties shall either (1) submit to the Clerk of Court an executed Form AO 85 Notice, Consent, and Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge, indicating their consent to have a United States Magistrate Judge conduct all proceedings in this case including trial, the entry of final judgment, and post-trial proceedings; or (2) file a joint letter indicating that …

Pittsburgh, PA, home of the Western District
Andrew E. Russell, displayed with permission

Last week, the District of Delaware began assigning patent cases to visiting judge J. Nicholas Ranjan of W.D. Pa. As far as I can tell, these are the first D. Del. cases to be assigned to Judge Ranjan.

Following the assignments, Judge Ranjan issued the following order in each case:

ORDER, regarding practices and procedures of Judge Ranjan. I was recently reassigned several patent cases in the District of Delaware. In order to provide some degree of procedural consistency, I intend to follow all local rules and standing orders of the District of Delaware, and I intend to utilize Judge Andrews forms and orders, until further notice. So counsel should comply with all …

Roll the Dice
Leon-Pascal Janjic, Unsplash

Since 2021, Judge Connolly has occasionally issued orders asking parties to either consent to a magistrate judge or have their case re-assigned to a visiting judge. The parties in three out of five of that first round of cases consented, and we've seen several rounds of these orders since then.

The Court also offered parties a similar choice in the wake of the departure of Judge Stark, before Judge Williams was confirmed. I haven't seen hard numbers on this, but in May of last year we estimated that around 20% of those cases consented rather than waiting for the new district judge and risking re-assignment to a visiting judge.

These consent-or-visiting-judge referrals have continued through Judge …

"If we don't consent, which visiting judge do you think we'll get?" Hush Naidoo Jade Photography, Unsplash

We've talked before about Chief Judge Connolly's orders that allow parties to choose to either consent to a specific magistrate judge or to have the case assigned to a visiting judge.

Last month, the Court issued those orders in six patent cases. All of the orders followed the same pattern as last time, giving the choice between a specific magistrate judge or an unknown visiting judge:

ORAL ORDER: It is HEREBY ORDERED that on or before November 1, 2022, the parties shall either (1) submit to the Clerk of Court an executed Form AO 85 Notice, Consent, and Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge, indicating their consent to have a United States Magistrate Judge conduct all proceedings in this case including trial, the entry of final judgment, and post-trial proceedings; or (2) file a joint letter indicating that all the parties do not consent to a referral of this action to a Magistrate Judge. The letter should not indicate which party or parties did not consent. If all the parties consent, the case will be referred to Magistrate Judge Burke. Because of the Court's caseload, if the parties do not consent, the Court intends to assign the case to a visiting judge from another district. Ordered by Judge Colm F. Connolly on 10/18/2022.

These orders started last year, before Judge Stark's departure for the Federal Circuit. It makes sense that the Court is sticking with ...

Dan Mall, Unsplash

I noticed a new visiting judge here in the District of Delaware this month: Senior United States District Judge Joel H. Slomsky of the Eastern District of PA.

To my knowledge, Judge Slomsky has not previously served as a visiting judge in the District of Delaware, other than signing one stipulation on an emergency basis back in 2010. It looks like Judge Slomsky took on four patent cases this month.

Welcome, Judge Slomsky!

Drew Beamer, Unsplash

Visiting Judge McCalla has taken about 13 patent cases so far here in Delaware, including some additional assignments late last month. A reader who has a case before him flagged an interesting point: Judge McCalla brings some of his home-state rules with him.

In his orders on hearings and scheduling conferences, for example, he directs the parties to either the Northern District of California local patent rules or the District of Tennessee local patent rules:

1. A video motion conference re: Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 11) will be held . . .
2. The parties should refer to the Northern District of California or the Western District of Tennessee Patent Rules.

See, e.g., New York University v. Resmed, Inc., C.A. No. 21-813-JPM (D. Del. Mar. 28, 2022).

Likewise, scheduling orders in his cases may look a bit alien to regular Delaware practitioners, as he uses the District of Tennessee form. That form results in a two-page scheduling order like the attached, which focuses primarily on a few of the initial dates and guidelines, rather than ...