Motion Court Procedures


President Judge Joseph M. Walsh III
  • Motion Court starts promptly at 9:00 a.m. All parties must check in with the tipstaff and complete the appropriate Motion Court forms. Uncontested motions are addressed first. Contested motions follow uncontested motions. Pro se matters are heard last. All motions shall be in writing.
  • Motion Court is intended for minor matters only, where the entitlement to relief is clear, and, for good reason,the consent of the other party cannot be obtained. Motion Court is not intended for matters requiring testimony and/or an evidentiary record. Emergency matters requiring an evidentiary hearing will not be heard in Motion Court, however, you may come to Motion Court to explore scheduling an expedited hearing.
  • Time-stamped copies of uncontested motions or petitions, along with the agreed upon proposed order, may be delivered to my chambers for signature at any time, but must include a cover letter, or other verification indicating that all parties or their counsel consent to the proposed order;
  • I follow Erie County Local Rule 304 with regard to contested motions. If I have indicated that all future matters in a case are to be presented only to me, it is your responsibility to alert Court Administration so that the matter is placed on my schedule.
  • I require written motions to continue matters that are scheduled in front of me. Those should be delivered to my chambers (not taken to another judge), and must indicate whether they are contested. Motions for continuance maybe denied at my discretion, regardless of whether all parties consent, so do not remove the matter from your calendar until you have a signed Order from me.
  • I require written motions for parties or their counsel requesting to participate in a matter by telephone. Such requests must be for good cause, and you must indicate whether all parties consent. Motions for telephone testimony may be denied at my discretion, regardless of whether all parties consent.
  • In addition to a scheduling order / rule to show cause order, all motions, petitions, and other requests for relief must include a narrowly tailored proposed order addressing all of the relief you are requesting in the underlying motion/petition.
Judge Marshall J. Piccinini

I. General Provisions

A.      Title and Citation

This guidance shall be known as the Practices and Procedures of Judge Marshall J. Piccinini and may be cited as “Prac. & Proc. of Piccinini, J., ______.”

B.      Scope and Construction

No substantive or procedural rights are created herein, nor are any such rights diminished. These Practices and Procedures are merely intended to implement existing state and local rules of procedure, evidence, judicial administration, and professional conduct, as well as to memorialize established customs, norms, and traditions of this Court, as they apply to proceedings held before Judge Piccinini or to any written or oral motion or petition presented for his consideration.

C.      Effective Date and Revisions

These Practices and Procedures shall be effective February 1, 2022.  The Court may, from time to time, issue such revisions to these Practices and Procedures as it deems proper, which shall be effective as of the date they are singed, unless otherwise stated therein.

II. Correspondence and Communications

A.     Communications with the Court

Under no circumstances are counsel or the parties to correspond directly with Judge Piccinini concerning a case or pending matter unless he specifically requests or approves the same.  The Court should not be personally copied on correspondence between counsel and court staff.

B.     Communications with Law Clerk and Court Staff

Communications with the law clerk and Court staff regarding the administration of a case or inquiries pertaining to the status of any pending matter are permissible.  In no event should communications with the law clerk or Court staff occur regarding the merits of a case.  Counsel must state that any such communication is made with the knowledge and concurrence of all parties.

C.      Communications by Telephone or Email

Requests concerning pending matters—such as requests to continue a hearing or to appear telephonically—should be made in the form of written motions, duly filed and served upon opposing counsel.  Where this is impracticable, counsel may relay such requests to Court staff either by email or by telephone.  If relayed by telephone, counsel for all parties must either be on the line or counsel must state that the communication is made with the knowledge and concurrence of all parties.  If relayed by email, counsel for all parties must be included on the email.  This procedure applies equally to self-represented parties and parties represented by counsel.

D.     Communications Including Guardians Ad Litem

For purposes of counsel’s obligation to avoid ex parte communications, a communication shall be considered ex parte if it does not include any guardian ad litem assigned to the case.

E.     Authorized Ex Parte Communications

These limitations and guidance on correspondence and communications with the Court and Court staff shall not apply to ex parte communications otherwise authorized by law.

III. Motions Practice

A.  Format

    1. Paper- All motions, briefs, and other legal papers must be on 8 ½ by 11-inch white paper of good quality
    2. Text- The text must be clear, legible, and double-spaced, but quotations more than two lines long may be indented and single-spaced.  Margins must be at least one inch on all four sides.
    3. Font Size- The text should be in a 12-point font.
    4. Numbered Pages- All pages, other than the first page, must be numbered.

B.      Service on the Court

Parties are required to furnish courtesy copies to the Court of any motions, petitions, or preliminary objections, as well as responses, replies, and all briefs or memoranda of law filed in connection thereto.  Courtesy copies may be delivered by hand or by mail to Chambers or by email to the law clerk or other court staff with their express permission.

C.     Motions

A motion should consist of a document setting forth in plain and concise terms the specific relief sought and the factual and legal grounds for the relief sought.  The motion should affirmatively state whether the motion has been discussed with all other parties, and their position as to the relief sought.  A proposed order setting forth the specific relief requested shall be filed as a separate attachment.  Any motion requesting the continuance of a proceeding, an extension of time in which to file, or leave to file nunc pro tunc should contain supporting facts and indicate the position of opposing counsel.

D.      Supporting Briefs

When required by local rule or order of court, the motion shall be supported by a separate brief containing factual and legal analysis.  Except as applies to briefs accompanying civil post-trial motions pursuant to Erie L.R.C.P. 210, supporting briefs are limited to 25 pages in length (exclusive of pages containing the table of contents, table of citations, and any addendum containing opinions, etc., or other similar supplementary or evidentiary materials) unless leave of court is sought to exceed this limit.  Where not required by local rule or order of court, a party is encouraged to accompany a substantive, contested motion with a brief or memorandum of law in support thereof.

E.     Responses

Opposing parties who do not consent to a motion must file a separate response thereto, except in cases involving motions presented in Motion Court, motions for extensions of time, motions for reconsideration, or posttrial motions.  A proposed order shall be filed as a separate attachment.

F.      Briefs in Opposition

When required by local rule or order of court, the response shall be supported by a separate brief in opposition containing factual and legal analysis.  Except as applies to briefs accompanying responses to civil post-trial motions pursuant to Erie L.R.C.P. 210, briefs in opposition are limited to 25 pages in length (exclusive of pages containing the table of contents, table of citations and any addendum containing opinions, etc., or other similar supplementary or evidentiary materials) unless leave of court is sought to exceed this limit.  Where not required by local rule or order of court, a party is invited to accompany a response to a contested motion with a brief in opposition or memorandum of law.

G.     Reply Briefs

Only reply briefs on preliminary objections, motions for judgment on the pleadings, and motions for summary judgment are permitted without leave of court.  Any reply brief submitted should be narrowly tailored to address only those matters addressed in the response brief.  Reply briefs are limited to 10 pages in length unless leave of Court is sought to exceed this limit.  Unless otherwise directed, the reply brief shall be filed no later than 10 days after service of the brief in opposition.

H.     Sur-Reply Briefs

Sur-reply briefs are disfavored and may not be submitted without leave of Court.  Sur-reply briefs should be narrowly tailored to address only those matters addressed in the reply brief and are limited to 5 pages in length unless otherwise indicated in the order granting leave to file.  Unless otherwise directed, the sur-reply brief shall be filed no later than 7 days after receipt of the order granting leave to file the sur-reply brief.

I. Procedure for the Filing of Motions and Briefs in Trial Division Civil Matters

    1. Preliminary Objections- The procedure for filing preliminary objections, supporting briefs, responses, and briefs in opposition are generally governed by Erie L.R.C.P. 1028(c).
    2. Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings- The procedure for filing motions for judgment on the pleadings, supporting briefs, responses, and briefs in opposition are generally governed by Erie L.R.C.P. 1034(a).
    3. Non-Dispositive Motions- The procedure for the filing of non-dispositive motions and responses thereto, including motions related to discovery, is generally governed by Erie L.R.C.P. 208(3)(a)-(b).
    4. Motion for Summary Judgment- The procedure for the filing of motions for summary judgment, supporting briefs, responses, and briefs in opposition are generally governed by Erie L.R.C.P. 1035.2(a).
    5. Pretrial Motions- The Court will generally set forth a timeline for the filing of pretrial motions, including motions in limine, in a pretrial case management order after the case is certified for trial in accordance with the procedures of Erie L.R.C.P. 212.1(e).
    6. Posttrial Motions- Where permitted under the Rules, the procedure for filing posttrial motions is generally governed by Pa.R.C.P. 227.1(c).  While not required, any supporting brief or memorandum of law should be filed and served on the Court and opposing counsel together with the motion.   Unless otherwise directed, responses or briefs in opposition, while not required, should be filed no later than 10 days after service of the posttrial motion.

J.      Joint Motions

Joint, consent, or uncontested motions on matters that do not implicate the substantial rights of the parties are encouraged and will be promptly decided.  A joint, consent, or uncontested motion shall so state in its title. Joint motions in cases with more than two parties that have the consent of fewer than all the parties shall so state on the first page.

K.     Expedited Considerations

Should a party believe that there is particular urgency to the grant or denial of a motion requiring expedited treatment due to the particular facts or circumstances of the matter, they should so state in the motion or response, and also advise Chambers and counsel for all other parties of the same.  Upon receipt of the motion or response containing the request for expedited consideration, the Court may consider modifying the response time or take such other actions as it deems necessary to resolve the matter in a timely fashion, as the interests of justice require.

I.       Expedited Materials

Evidentiary materials in support of, or in opposition to, a motion should be plainly marked and may be attached to the motion or brief, or compiled and filed in a separate document.  Counsel should furnish only the evidentiary materials that are necessary to deciding the motion.

M.    Unpublished Opinions as Exhibits

Any non-precedential opinion of the Superior Court or Commonwealth Court cited for its persuasive value in a motion or brief in accordance with Pa.R.C.P. 242 (effective April 1, 2022) must be furnished to the other parties and to the Court as an exhibit.

N.     Oral Argument

Oral argument may be scheduled on selected, factually or legally complex matters. If the Court deems oral argument to be appropriate, an order will issue.  Any party believing that oral argument will materially advance the decisional process may file a motion requesting oral argument or include a request for oral argument in their original motion or response.

O.     Motions to Appear Telephonically or by Alternative Electronic Means

Motions to appear telephonically or by alternative electronic means should be made in writing except where this is impracticable, in which case, such requests must be made in accordance with Section II(C), above. The motion should contain supporting facts and indicate the position of opposing counsel.  Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

P.      Discovery Motions in Civil Matters

The Court expects parties and their counsel to engage in good-faith efforts to resolve discovery disputes prior to seeking the Court’s intervention. Where such efforts fail, a discovery motion should provide a concise summary of the issue, and should include a verbatim recitation of each interrogatory, request, answer, response, and objection which is the subject of the motion.  Such motions shall comply with the requirements and procedures set forth in Erie L.R.C.P. 208.2(e) and 208.3(a)-(b).

Q.     Motions to Continue in Criminal Matters

In criminal matters, a motion to continue a pretrial hearing or trial and a response thereto should include the party’s position as to whom any delay in trial resulting therefrom should be attributable under the speedy trial provisions of Pa.R.Crim.P. 600.  Appropriate language excluding such delay from the operation of Rule 600 should be included in any proposed order accompanying the motion.

R.     Motions to Seal

All motions to seal any document or proceeding must set forth the specific factual and legal basis and necessity for sealing under prevailing law. Any order sealing any matter is subject to being vacated upon the motions of any party, any interested person, or by the Court on its own motion.  Absent exceptional circumstances, any proposed order must include this language: “This Order may be vacated and sealing lifted for cause shown upon the motion of any party or other person with a recognized interest, or after due notice by the Court upon the Court’s own motion.” The parties are reminded that all court proceedings are presumptively open to the public, including those in which sealed material may be discussed.

Note: Nothing in this Section is intended to preclude parties from redacting from public view certain confidential information and confidential documents included in their filings pursuant to applicable state and local rules. See Pa.R.C.P. 205.6; Pa.R.C.P. 1930.1(b); Pa.O.C. Rule 1.99; Pa.R.Crim.P. Rule 113.1; Pennsylvania Public Access Policy §§ 7.0, 8.0; Erie Judicial Administration Rule: Public Access Policy (effective 1/6/2018).

S.      Notices of Bankruptcy

In any Trial Division civil matter, a party that has initiated bankruptcy proceedings and has obtained an automatic stay pursuant to the United States Bankruptcy Code should file a “Notice of Bankruptcy” with the Prothonotary, serving a copy of said notice on the Court.  The Notice must include: (1) the federal court that entered the stay; (2) the federal court case number; (3) the date of entry of the automatic stay.  The party should also attach any federal filings relevant to the stay.

IV. Motion Court Practice

A.      Procedure

Motion Court begins promptly at 9:00 a.m.  All parties must check-in with the tipstaff prior to the commencement of proceedings. All motions must be in writing.  Generally, counseled motions will be heard first.  The Court will accept advance courtesy copies of motions in more complex matters that may require prior review.

B.     Matters Not to Be Presented in Motion Court

Parties are reminded that Motion Court is intended for matters which do not require testimony or the development of an evidentiary record.  Emergency matters requiring an evidentiary hearing will not be resolved in Motion Court, although the parties may explore with the Court the option of scheduling the matter for an expedited hearing.  If testimony is warranted, the motion must be taken to Court Administration for judicial assignment so that the matter can be scheduled for a rule to show cause.  Likewise, a motion for emergency custody of a child or for modification of a child custody order, which is contested or has not been served on the other party to the action, must be taken to Court Administration unless immediate and irreparable harm shall occur should the requested relief not be granted immediately.

V. Presentation of Arguments and Evidence

A.     General Courtroom Decorum

Counsel shall conduct themselves with respect, courtesy, and civility at all times. The Court will not tolerate demonstrations of hostility, discrimination, or bias of any kind.  Such unprofessional displays may result in the imposition of sanctions.

B.      Approaching Witnesses

Counsel need not seek permission from the Court to approach a witness.

C.      Examination of Witnesses Beyond Direct and Cross

The Court will permit redirect and recross of a witness only as necessary.

D.     Examination of Witnesses Out of Sequence

Parties are generally free to sequence the order of witnesses they intend to offer in their case-in-chief as they see fit.  The Court permits the examination of a witness outside of a party’s case-in-chief if a scheduling conflict exists with the consent of the other parties.

E.      Examination of Witnesses or Argument by More than One Attorney

One attorney for each party may conduct an examination of any witness and may argue any motion or point.

F.      Opportunities for Junior Attorneys

Section V(E), above, notwithstanding, the Court strongly encourages parties to permit junior attorneys to actively examine witnesses, or to participate in the proceedings by presenting argument on a motion, particularly where the junior attorney drafted or contributed significantly to the underlying motion or response.  To that end, the Court will consider relaxing the usual requirement that only a single attorney may present an argument, and will allow a more experienced attorney to supervise a junior attorney in arguing a motion or point, or in the examination of witnesses, so long as doing so will not unduly prolong the proceeding, not prejudice the opposing party, and not result in undue duplication of one party’s advocacy.  All attorneys are expected to be appropriately prepared, regardless of experience.  For example, any attorney who is arguing a motion for summary judgment is expected to be thoroughly familiar with the factual record and the applicable law.  Furthermore, all attorneys appearing in court should have a degree of authority commensurate with the proceeding that they are assigned to handle.  For example, an attorney appearing at a settlement conference ordinarily must have the full authority to propose, agree to, or decline a settlement offer and to discuss the history and status of prior settlement discussions.

G.     The Court’s Examination of Witnesses

Pursuant to Pa.R.E. 614, the Court may examine a witness called by a party as the interests of justice so require.  The Court’s examination of a witnesses should not be perceived as precluding a party from making a valid objection to a question just as they would make such an objection to a question asked by opposing counsel.  Counsel having an objection to the Court’s examination of a witness generally, or to a specific question, must make a timely objection, and in the case of a jury trial, the Court will provide the objecting party the opportunity to make its objection outside the presence of the jury.

H.     Objections

When objecting to any matter in a court proceeding, the party raising the objection should simply object, state the nature of the objection, and cite any rule or authority in support of the objection, without further explanatory narrative.  The opposing party should concisely state their response to the objection and cite to any rule or authority without further explanatory narrative.  The Court will then rule on the objection.

I.       Side Bar Conferences

Side bar conferences are generally disfavored unless the Court so requests or an evidentiary issue arises unexpectedly during the course of a jury trial that counsel wishes to raise outside the earshot of the jurors.

J.      Exhibits

Plaintiffs, petitioners, and guardians ad litem shall identify their exhibits with numbers and defendants and respondents shall identify their exhibits with letters.  If there are multiple plaintiffs, defendants, etc., then the numbers or letters shall be followed by the party’s first initial and last name.  The party offering the exhibit should bring copies for the Court and opposing counsel.

VI. Trial Practice in Trial Division Matters

A.     Pretrial Conference

    1. Settlement Conference- Prior to all civil jury trials, the Court will hold a pretrial settlement conference, typically set in a pretrial case management order. Parties and their counsel should come prepared to engage in good-faith settlement negotiations, and the parties should discuss in advance with their counsel the conditions of settlement that they would be willing to authorize.Pursuant to Erie L.R.C.P. 212.3, attendance is mandatory for all counsel, and all persons needed to authorize or approve settlement should be present or available by telephone.  In cases where there is insurance coverage, or the possibility of insurance coverage (even if there is a coverage dispute or reservation of rights), a representative from the insurance carrier or carriers shall attend the settlement conference or be available by telephone.  Carrier and client representatives must have full and unilateral settlement authority on behalf of the carriers to the full extent of the insurance policies. “Full settlement authority” means that all persons necessary to make any settlement proposal or decision, or to accept or reject any settlement offer or demand, are in actual, physical attendance or available by telephone.At least one week prior to the conference, the parties may submit brief letters to the Court detailing the relative strengths and weaknesses of their case, as well as settlement positions.  The letters will not be filed nor disclosed to opposing counsel.In non-jury trials, where the Court sits as trier-of-fact, the Court may still order a settlement conference with the consent of the parties.  In such cases, the parties need not provide letters to the Court disclosing, in full candor, the relative strengths and weaknesses of their case or reveal to the Court those facts or settlement positions which the parties, on the advice of counsel, feel uncomfortable relaying to the Court.At all settlement conferences, trial counsel shall be prepared to discuss any anticipated dispositive motions as well as counsels’ assessment of the amount of time necessary to try the case.  No participant may leave the conference unless and until excused by the Court.
    2. Final Pretrial Conference- Prior to a trial, the Court will typically set the matter for a final pretrial conference.  At the final pretrial conference, witness lists, exhibits, motions in limine, jury instructions, voir dire, verdict slips, and any other pretrial matters will be discussed in detail, and generally ruled upon at the conference. As such, counsel should be prepared to make all related arguments at that time.

B.      Jury Selection

    1. Jury Questionnaire- In civil matters, and in selected criminal cases, the Court requires the parties, in advance of trial, to submit proposed voir dire questions, which will serve as the jury questionnaire.  Otherwise, the Court will utilize a standard jury questionnaire in substantially the same form as those exhibited in the Erie Local Rules of Civil Procedure.
    2. Voir Dire- The process for conducting vore dire is generally set forth in the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, respectively. See Pa.R.Crim.P. 631-635; Pa.R.C.P. 220.3, 221. Typically, the Court will preside over voir dire examination.  In criminal trials involving charges of any degree of murder pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2502, the examination of prospective jurors shall be by individual voir dire.  In all other civil or criminal cases, prospective jurors shall be examined collectively in panels unless the Court grants a motion filed in advance of jury selection to examine the prospective jurors individually.

C.      Trial

    1. Hours and Days- Typically, the Court is in trial Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with breaks when appropriate.  On trial days, counsel must be available at 8:30 a.m. (or earlier if necessary to ensure that trial commences on time) to meet with the Court concerning scheduling, anticipated trial issues, and to obtain advance rulings on evidentiary or other issues.  The Court usually takes 15-minute breaks in both the morning and afternoon, and a 60-minute break for lunch.
    2. Opening Statements- There are no court-imposed time constraints on the duration of opening statements, however, the Court encourages parties to limit their opening remarks to 30 minutes unless the case is particularly complex.  In a criminal case, the Commonwealth is entitled to offer their opening remarks first.  Defense counsel may defer opening statements until the beginning of their case-in-chief.  In a civil case, opening addresses may be made by all parties in the order of their appearance in the pleadings.
    3. Note-taking by Jurors- The Court permits jurors to take notes unless a valid objection is voiced.  The Court will provide notebooks to jurors.  The notes will be retained by the tipstaff when the jurors are not trial or deliberations.  Any notes will be destroyed once a verdict has been rendered.
    4. Presentation of Arguments and Evidence- See Section V, above.
    5. Closing Arguments- There are no court-imposed time constraints on the duration of closing arguments, however, the Court encourages parties to limit their closing remarks to 30 minutes unless the case is particularly complex.  In criminal cases, the Commonwealth shall be entitled to make the last argument. In civil cases, the party or parties not having the burden of proof shall address the jury first and the party or parties having the burden of proof shall have the right of final address in the order of their appearance in the pleadings.

D.     Jury Instructions

In civil and selected criminal cases, the parties must submit proposed jury instructions to the Court in advance of trial, typically in a timeframe set in a pretrial case management order.  In all cases, the Court will hold a charge conference after the close of evidence, but prior to the Court’s final charge to the jury.

E.     Verdict Slips

In civil and selected criminal cases, the parties shall submit proposed verdict slips to the Court in advance of trial, typically in a timeframe set in a pretrial case management order.  Failure of a party to submit a verdict slip, or object to another party’s proposed verdict slips by the time of the final pretrial conference may result in waiver of a challenge to the verdict slip that is ultimately utilized by the Court.

F.      Jury Deliberation

    1. Jury Questions- If the jury submits a question, the Court will discuss the question with counsel prior to giving an answer to the jury.
    2. Written Copies of Jury Instructions- Generally, the Court does not permit the jury to have written copies of the jury instructions.
    3. Exhibits in the Jury Room- Generally, the Court does not permit exhibits to accompany jurors to deliberations.  Requests by jurors to review an exhibit will be considered on a case-by-case basis except where prohibited in criminal cases pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 646(C).
    4. Jury Requests to Read Back Testimony or Reply Audio or Video- Where appropriate and not prejudicial to any party, the Court will permit the reading back of testimony or replaying of audio or video to the jury.  The Court will discuss the request with counsel and allow an opportunity for objections to be made prior to granting such a request.
    5. Availability of Counsel During Jury Deliberations- Counsel must be available by telephone during jury deliberations.  Counsel must provide contact information to the tipstaff or other Court staff before leaving the Courtroom after the jury is charged.

G.      Posttrial Interviews of Jurors

Any posttrial interview of a juror must be conducted with courtesy and respect for the service of that juror. The Court advises jurors that they are not under any obligation to respond to inquiries from counsel.  Should a juror inform counsel that they do not wish to be interviewed or debriefed, counsel shall refrain from further interaction with that juror.

H.     Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

At the conclusion of civil non-jury trials, the Court may order the parties to file proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.  Each proposed finding of fact shall be supported by explicit reference to the record.  Each proposed conclusion of law shall be supported by citation to appropriate authority.  The parties shall file briefs together with their proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law integrating their proposed factual findings and legal conclusions into a cohesive analysis.

VII. Trial Practice in Family Division Matters

A.      Pretrial Settlement Conferences

The Court schedules pretrial settlement conference in all matters set for a child custody trial.  Parties and their counsel should come prepared to engage in good-faith discussions on resolution of the matter at the conference.

B.     Child Custody Trials

    1. Time Allotted for Trial- Generally, where both parties are represented by counsel, the Court will allot either a full morning or afternoon for a child custody trial during the Custody Trial Term.  If counsel believes this will not be enough time to try the case, they should so state in their pretrial narrative statement and at the pretrial settlement conference.  Counsel and self-represented parties should strive to keep their examination of witnesses and presentation of evidence concise, and only in the most unusual of circumstances will more time be allotted in which to try a case.
    2. Relevant Evidence- Both counsel and self-represented parties should pay particular attention to avoid redundant or irrelevant testimony.  To that end, their evidence and argument should be focused on the 16 child custody factors set forth in 23 Pa.C.S. § 5328(a); in appropriate cases, the factors relevant to grandparents or great-grandparents seeking partial physical custody or supervised physical custody set forth in 23 Pa.C.S. § 5328(c); where relevant the 10 relocation factors of 23 Pa.C.S. § 5337(h); and in all cases, evidence and argument concerning the bests interests of the child.

C.      Interviews of Child Witnesses in Child Custody Disputes

The procedure for interviewing a child as a witnesses in a child custody dispute is generally governed by Pa.R.C.P. 1915.11. The decision to call a child witness to testify is one made by counsel based upon their need for evidence with an over-arching focus on the child’s age, maturity, ability to communicate, and overall intellectual functioning and capacity to testify and be deemed competent as a witness.  Because the parties must meet that threshold determination, the Court will not “call” a child witness or opine as to the propriety of offering a child as a witness in advance of trial.  Any child under the age of 12 who is brought to Court to be interviewed must be accompanied by either an older sibling or a competent and responsible adult who can supervise the child while the proceeding is pending.

Signed this 1st day of February, 2022

By the Court:

_______________________________

             Marshall J. Piccinini, Judge

Judge John J. Mead

If both parties have consented to the relief, the Motion may be dropped off in Chambers, provided the consent is set forth clearly in the Motion or by separate endorsement in the Motion.

  • We will start promptly at 9:00 a.m.
  • A cover sheet must be completely filled out by the moving party before being presented to the Judge. Cover sheets for Motion Court can be found on the Erie County website.
  • In Forma Pauperis forms must be completely filled out before being presented to the Judge. In Forma Pauperis forms can be found on the Erie County website.
  • Unconsented Motions will be addressed first.
  • Contested Motions will follow.
  • Pro Se matters will be handled last. (Pro Se refers to a party without an attorney.)
  • Motion Court is intended only for minor matters where the entitlement to relief is clear and for some reason the consent of the other party cannot be obtained.
  • The moving party must be prepared to make a brief and plain statement demonstrating their right to relief.
  • An Order must accompany the Motion.
  • Motion Court is not intended for matters requiring substantial testimony.
  • Matters presenting an emergency are not necessarily going to be decided in Motion Court solely by virtue of their urgent nature. The procedure is to file a rule to show cause seeking a hearing or argument on an expedited basis.
Judge David Ridge
  • Civil and Criminal Motions will be addressed Monday through Thursday. Motion Court PROMPTLY starts at 9:00 a.m.
  • Motion Court is for motions that do not have judicial assignment.
  • Motion Court is NOT intended for matters requiring testimony. If testimony is warranted, the case must be taken to Court Administration for judicial assignment.
  • If both parties have CONSENTED to the requested relief, the motion may be dropped off in Chambers, ONLY if the consent is clearly stated in the motion and an ORDER accompanies the Motion.
  • A cover sheet MUST be COMPLETELY filled out by the MOVING PARTY before the motion is presented to the Judge. Cover sheets are found on the Eric County website. eriecountypa.gov.
  • Consented to motions will be addressed FIRST. Motions that are NOT consented to will be next. Pro se motions will be last.
  • IFP (In Forma Pauperis) forms MUST BE COMPLETED IN FULL before being presented to the Judge. In Forma Pauperis forms can be found on the Erie County website. (See #5.)
  • Motion Court is intended for MINOR MATTERS where the relief is clear and for some reason the consent of the other party CANNOT be obtained. The moving party MUST be prepared to make a brief and plain statement demonstrating their right to relief. An ORDER MUST accompany the Motion.
Judge Daniel J. Brabender Jr.
  • Motion Court is held at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
  • I generally do not accept Motions in my office. I prefer to have Motions presented in Motion Court in person.
Judge Elizabeth K. Kelly
  • Motion Court starts at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Sometimes I will take the Bench a little early if there are attorneys present with uncontested matters. I never hear contested matters or potentially contested matters until 9:00 a.m.
  • Although Motion Court starts at 9:00 a.m., if attorneys come into Court after 9:00 a.m. and I am still on the Bench, I will hear their Motions. My Motion Court runs until I am done. There is no specific time limit.
  • I do not accept any Motions in my office (unless someone has come to Motion Court after I am off the Bench and the matter is uncontested). I do require written Motions to continue matters that are scheduled in front of me. It is my position that such requests should be submitted directly to me, and not another judge. If both parties agree to the continuance, they can send the Motion to me via mail or office delivery with consents attached by counsel and/or pro se litigants. I do not require these Motions to be presented in Motion Court.
  • I do not have a separate set of rules for out-of-town counsel.
  • I do not differentiate what type of cases I hear on each day.
Judge John J. Trucilla

The following would apply to the Family/Orphans’ Court Motion Court, as well as the Criminal/Civil Division Motion Court:

  • We will start promptly at 9:00 a.m.
  • Uncontested motions will be addressed first.
  • Contested motions will follow.
  • With reference to out-of-town counsel, if they have a matter that is uncontested, that motion will be received by the Court without an appearance by the out-of-town counsel. However, if the matter is contested, the Court would expect that the out-of-town counsel be present or the matter will not be heard.
  • With respect to attorneys or walk-ins who appear in Motion Court after 9:00 a.m., this Court will address those matters as long as Motion Court is still in session when they arrive. Of course, this Court would expect that a lawyer who is running late or in another courtroom would call my secretary (814-451-6481) for perhaps some forewarning.
  • For the proposed settlement of a minor’s claim, there needs to be a recorded colloquy in which a parent or guardian is present to affirm the agreement.