PBCBA BAR BULLETINS 0817 PB Bar Bully Sept PRINT - Page 7

Local Rule 4 Has Lawyers Talking By Judge Peter Blanc, Amy Borman, Greg Coleman & Adam Rabin* Local Rule 4, which has been in place for over 25 years, was originally established to both encourage and require lawyers to make a good faith effort to resolve or narrow the issues raised in motions before the motions were scheduled for uniform motion calendar hearings. The Rule was amended for the first time in 2015 to require attorneys (1) to make a good faith effort to speak to each other by telephone or in person, before noticing a hearing for uniform motion calendar, where an exchange of emails between attorneys did not successfully resolve the motion, and (2) to require attorneys to certify in an unmodifiable form of certification the attorney’s good faith effort to confer with opposing counsel. The Rule, however, has now been amended again in 2017 to clarify and expand on certain issues. The new amendment to the Rule emphasizes the requirement that attorneys make a good faith effort to speak to each other by telephone or in person by including language in the form of certification that now requires the attorney to acknowledge that he or she has made such an effort. The new amendment requires not only the scheduling attorney to operate in good faith in an effort to speak to opposing counsel, but also the non-scheduling attorney has that same obligation, which would most commonly be met by timely returning a phone call when the non-scheduling attorney is unavailable to speak to the scheduling attorney on his/her first effort to do so. The new amendment further requires an attorney who is covering the hearing for another attorney to be familiar with the details of an unsuccessful effort to speak with each other so that the Court can determine that both parties have acted in good faith. Importantly, with the Rule’s expansion, it now extends beyond uniform motion calendar to specially set hearings in the Circuit Court. In addition, the Rule now applies to all hearings in the County Court. That means for those divisions that allow online scheduling of specially set hearings, the online order setting the hearing cannot be completed and issued until the scheduling attorney checks a box on the screen confirming specific compliance with the Rule. For those hearings scheduled via a notice of hearing, it will be the obligation of the scheduling attorney to include the appropriate unmodifiable certification language required by the Rule within the notice, directly above the attorney signature block. Finally, the new amendment clarifies that compliance with the Rule is not required when an attorney is dealing with a pro se party. The form of certification, likewise, has been modified to allow an attorney to check a box that indicates non- compliance on this basis. By adopting the new amendment to the Rule, the Court does not intend to discourage attorneys’ use of e-mail as a frequent and efficient form of communication, including the circumstances that may result in the resolution of a pending motion without a further conferral. However, all attorneys should be in the habit of talking to each other about pending motions that are not otherwise resolved before they are set for hearing. If nothing else, each side will have a better understanding of the basis for disagreement which should make the arguments to the Court more concise and more effective. In sum, you should get in the habit of talking to opposing counsel. It will save you time, save your clients money, eliminate unnecessary hearings, reduce the wait time for those hearings that cannot otherwise be resolved, make you look like a problem solver, and improve your advocacy before the Court, all while demonstrating professionalism and civility. Moreover, you will help play your part in continuing to make Palm Beach County the best place in the State of Florida in which to practice law. *Judge Peter Blanc is a current Circuit Court Judge and former Chief Judge of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit. Amy Borman is the current General Counsel for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit. Greg Coleman is a partner with Critton Luttier & Coleman, LLP and a former President of The Florida Bar. Adam Rabin is a partner with McCabe Rabin, P.A. and a current member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Get Your Foursome Now! Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County’s 17th Annual Cup of Justice Golf Classic Monday, October 9, 2017 | 1:00pm Shotgun Start  Columbus Day  Bear Lakes Country Club - Lakes Course For More Information Call Harreen @ 561.822.9763 September 2017 Benefiting Children’s Advocacy Golfers enjoy lunch, golf, dinner, goody bags, raffles, contests, trophies, prizes and much more!!! Page 7