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Frequently Asked Questions
Can the costs of an ENE or mediation be limited by setting a cap on the number of hours the evaluator or mediator can spend on the case?
The parties are free to regulate expense by agreement. It should be noted that current court experience shows that the costs associated with a mediation session are often significantly less than those associated with taking a day of depositions.
Can I bring my cell phone and/or laptop into the courthouse?
Yes, but there are restrictions. Please read the
Court’s policy concerning electronic equipment.
All items must pass security clearance.
Are judges still going to try cases?
Yes. Some cases are simply not able to be settled and those cases will proceed to trial. Even in those cases, good faith use of this program will reduce the number of summary judgment motions filed, thereby streamlining the case and enabling judges to conduct trials more quickly.
What are the procedures for inclement weather or courthouse emergencies?
In all divisions, jurors should call the Court’s emergency toll free number, 1-866-602-3219 to determine if the court will be open, closed, or have a delayed opening during times of inclement weather or during any other emergency condition that may occur. If the message does not specifically state that the courthouse is closed or a delayed opening, then the court is open for business as usual. This toll free number is NOT to be confused with the AJIS toll free number that all jurors must call for reporting instructions.
Will judges still conduct settlement conferences?
Yes. Judges have the discretion to conduct settlement conferences in cases over which they preside or to which they are referred. Additionally, judges may, at the request of another judge on the Court, volunteer their time to conduct settlement conferences in cases that are not otherwise assigned to them.
Can my family reach me in case of emergency?
Your family may contact the Jury Office in Pittsburgh at (412) 208-7540, in Erie at (814) 464-9600, in Johnstown at (814) 533-4504 in case of an extreme emergency, and a clerk will deliver a message to you. Please have the caller specify that you are on jury duty.
Does the ADR process happen before, during or after discovery?
Ideally the ADR process will happen before discovery, but after F.R.C.P. 26(a)(l) disclosures. Once parties have spent substantial time and money in discovery, they seem less amenable to settlement. However, in some situations, limited discovery must occur, such as the plaintiff's deposition, before meaningful settlement discussions can take place. These issues should be addressed to the judge assigned to the case and limited discovery may be allowed at the court's discretion.
What if I have a sudden emergency?
It is important that jurors report when they are required to and are prompt. Absences may delay or even jeopardize trials. If jurors are faced with an emergency such as a sudden illness or a death in the family, they should follow the instructions that they were given by the court. If they are unable to do so, they should telephone the Jury Office of the appropriate division. In addition, if there is an emergency and someone needs to contact you during your service, they may call the Jury Office at the same number and a message will be delivered to you promptly. Please have them specify that you are on jury duty.
Why is the emphasis on having ADR so early in the litigation process?
The goal of this program is to help litigants toward an inexpensive and prompt resolution of their case whenever possible.
Will I serve on civil or criminal trials and what happens if I'm selected to serve on a trial?
The court tries both civil and criminal cases, and it is possible that you may be selected for either type of case. If you are selected to serve on a trial, you must follow the instructions of your trial judge or courtroom deputy.