A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Visiting Judges

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 ...

The gloves are off.
The gloves are off. Arisa Chattasa, Unsplash

The Court announced it's plan for Judge Stark's departure today, and it includes some bold moves.

All attorneys who practice in D. Del. should read the announcement in full—it's not that long—but here are some highlights.

Pending Mediations Will Be Canceled

Unlike previous transitions, most district court cases will be impacted, because magistrate judge referrals for mediation and all pending mediations will be canceled except in select instances:

Other than mediations in bankruptcy appeals or unless specifically directed otherwise by the Court, all referrals to Magistrate Judges for alternate dispute resolution will be vacated and all currently scheduled mediations will be canceled.

Thus, mediations in non-judge-Stark cases will be canceled. …

Andreas Dress, Unsplash

It is with heavy heart that I announce that Judge Stark has finally been confirmed to the Federal Circuit. Appointed to our little Court in 2010, Judge Stark's time with us has been all too brief, and he will be dearly missed by all of us who practiced before him and/or shared his love of T. Swift (2/2)

With Judge O'Malley set to retire on March 11, Judge Stark is likely to be sworn in very shortly thereafter. If the past is any guide, we can soon expect Judge Stark's active cases to be transferred to visiting visiting judges or magistrates while the district awaits a new Article III judge.

We here at IP/DE will keep you updated on any Judge Stark happenings at the Federal Circuit, on the theory that he will always carry a piece of Delaware with him, like a traveling embassy for the first state.

Goodbye Judge!
Goodbye Judge! Japanese cat figurines, Alain Pham, Unsplash

Following Judge Stark's nomination to the Federal Circuit and subsequent smooth appearance before the Judiciary Committee, we've all begun to wonder when he would begin unloading his pending cases.

Well wonder no more!

On Tuesday, Judge Stark issued the following oral order in 360Heros, Inc. v. GoPro, Inc., C.A. No. 17-1302-LPS, D.I. 260 (D. Del. Jan. 18, 2022):

Having reviewed the parties' letter relating to the jury trial currently scheduled to begin on March 7 . . . IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the trial is CONTINUED to a date to be determined. The parties are advised that in advance of trial, likely sometime in February, …

Tennessee Mike Lento, Unsplash

Today Judge Andrews reassigned a case to what appears to be a new visiting judge for the District of Delaware, Senior District Judge Jon Phipps McCalla of the Western District of Tennessee:

Case Reassigned to Judge Jon P McCalla of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Please include the initials of the Judge (JPM) after the case number on all documents filed. (rjb) (Entered: 01/03/2022)

Emerson Process Management Regulator Technologies, Inc. v. Pietro Fiorentini (USA), Inc., C.A. No. 21-1488-JPM (D. Del.).

To my knowledge, this is the first referral of a Distrct of Delaware patent case to Judge McCalla, and he is not yet on the …

Pawel Czerwinski, Unsplash

Two weeks ago, we wrote about a new set of referral orders in five Chief Judge Connolly cases. These orders offer the parties the choice to either consent to referral to Magistrate Judge Hall, or have their case referred to a visiting judge.

At this point, all parties have responded, and three out of five sets of parties consented to jurisdiction before Magistrate Judge Hall rather than having the case referred to a visiting judge. Seems like a good result! It will be interesting to see whether the Court continues to use these orders going forward.

I didn't see any obvious patterns among the cases that did or did not consent, although five cases is too small …