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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Court's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program?
In 2005, the Board of Judges for the Western District of Pennsylvania approved Local Civil Rule of Court 16.2 that requires parties involved in all civil actions (except social security cases and cases that involve prisoners) to agree upon a form of ADR as part of the litigation process.
If my laptop has a presentation on it; can I connect to the evidence distribution system in the courtrooms?
Yes. Each counsel table has 1 VGA input per table. An additional VGA input is also available on the podium.
- Please test your laptop prior to your court date to ensure that it is able to push video to an external source. Most laptops have this feature built-in, but others require additional software to achieve this result.
What are the clerk's office hours?
Monday-Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM (except for legal holidays)
How do I get a surety bond released?
This is between the surety company and the attorney, the court does not get involved. Counsel might mail a copy of the Stipulation for Dismissal, sometime this will satisfy a surety company. A Certificate of Satisfaction or a Judgment Roll (ordered through the intake section) may need to be mailed to the surety company to release the bond. A motion with a proposed order may be filed - stating the case is closed and the surety company is no longer liable. The attorney must first find out what the surety company requirements are before they will release a bond.
How do I get notified to appear for service?
Summons for jury service are sent via first-class mail. Petit jurors in all divisions receive instructions with their summons concerning how and when to call the Court’s Automated Jury Information System, a/k/a AJIS for reporting instructions. Summoned jurors for grand jury service however, do not call in before reporting for selection. They report on the time and date indicated on their summons.
What is the background of the Court's ADR Program?
The mission of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania is to preserve and enhance the rule of law while providing an impartial and accessible forum for the just, timely and economical resolution of legal proceedings within the court's jurisdiction, so as to protect individual rights and liberties, promote public trust and confidence in the judicial system, and to maintain judicial independence. One of the critical functions in achieving this mission is the promotion and use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in civil cases.
In 2001, the Court, following the directives of the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990 and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998, established an Advisory committee made up of members of the bar and bench to develop a vigorous ADR program. Together with the Court's Case Management/ADR Committee, ADR Policies and Procedures were developed and approved by the Board of Judges in August 2005. The Court's ADR Rule (LCvR 16.2) was then
modified, approved by the Court's Rules Committee, and posted for comment in September 2005. Beginning in June 2006, select district court judges piloted the implementation of this new local rule, which mandated the use of one of three possible ADR processes in all civil cases, with the exception of social security and those cases involving prisoners. Parties were required to determine which ADR method they wanted to employ and to discuss their choice at the initial case management conference, subject to the approval of the assigned judge. At the conclusion of this pilot period, implementation of the ADR program became court-wide in December 2007.
Is there Internet Access available in the courtroom?
Yes. Internet access is available in the courtrooms.
What counties are included in each division for purposes of district court case assignment, venue and petit jury service?
What is needed to file a civil complaint?
(1) An original copy of the signed complaint.
(2) A completed JS-44 Civil Cover Sheet, as modified by the Western District of Pennsylvania.
(3) A $400 Filing Fee.
Where did you get my name for jury service?
Every two years prospective jurors are selected randomly from the voter registration lists in the respective counties within the court’s jurisdiction and their names are put into what is known as the divisional "Master Jury Wheel.” After the creation of the Master Jury Wheel prospective jurors are sent a juror qualification questionnaire. This questionnaire must be completed and returned to the court to determine if the juror is qualified for jury service. Those individuals who "qualify" for service may eventually be summoned to report for service.