201 fUlton CoUnty SUperior CoUrt // jUDICIAL pROfILEs «
propriate because of the evidence presented.
17. Resolving pretrial issues prior to striking jury
a) Criminal: Pretrial issues may be scheduled and heard before
the call of the case. However, unless necessary, jury selection
will not be delayed in order to hear motions.
b) Civil: Pretrial issues may be scheduled and heard before the
call of the case However, unless necessary, jury selection will
not be delayed in order to hear motions.
18. What constitutes good cause for:
a) Granting continuances:
b) Extending discovery: Discovery cannot be extended by
19. Order preparation guidelines:
20. Suggestions/admonitions for counsel: I suggest you meet
with opposing counsel before bringing a motion or a dispute
to my attention. In many cases, motions and disputes can be
resolved or narrowed. It is extremely helpful to give the court a
courtesy copy of any briefs or written materials in advance of a
hearing. Attorneys are encouraged to set up preliminary telephone conferences to discuss any problems or legal causes.
21. Irritating lawyer conduct: I am concerned with attorneys
who are not professional with each other. I expect all parties
to be on time. While the number is small, some attorneys do
not follow through with submissions or pleadings they have
agreed to file by a specific date.
22. Other recommendations: Always provide courtesy copies
of all pleadings directly to the court. Also, when a motion has
been settled or withdrawn, notify the court as soon as possible. When a case has been settled, the court should be notified and the case concluded promptly. Also, pleadings should
be filed in advance of a hearing date and not at the hearing.
senior judge Melvin K. Westmoreland
College: University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1973
Law school: Western New England
Born: April 1, 1951, Fort Bragg, N.C.
previous Experience: Deputy
director, Atlanta Legal Aid Society,
1977-84; director, Pro Bono Project of the State Bar of Georgia,
1984-85; King & Spalding, 1985-88; judge, Fulton County State
Court, 1988-1997; 1997-present, current position.
policies, procedures and Recommendations:
1. Division designation: No such designation.
2. Pretrial conferences and pretrial orders: Only with jury trials.
3. Require dispute resolution: It’s usually in the parties’ best
interest to talk about settlement before any trial.
4. Telephone conferencing: Yes.
5. Special settings: In special circumstances, usually related to
anticipated during litigation. I then schedule a status confer-
ence, in chambers approximately two months from the date
complaint filed. We are usually able to agree to a scheduling
order and set applicable deadlines by court order. Criminal
cases: Major felony cases proceed under a detailed scheduling
order. Other felony cases generally appear only twice before
being set for trial. I have a short conference when the indict-
ment is signed and a pretrial conference before trial.
3. Require dispute resolution: No, unless the case falls within
the guidelines set by Fulton County ADR. The status report, we
discuss ADR and which ADR they suggest. In specific cases, I
may require ADR even if counsel doesn’t suggest it.
4. Telephone conferencing: I encourage parties to handle
many matters by telephoning, particularly discovery disputes.
5. Special settings: Yes, when possible and appropriate. Such
cases generally have witnesses with special problems or counsel have agreed the case will be prolonged and is not likely to
6. Attaching supporting authorities: No, counsel should not attach copies of Georgia cases, either state or federal. However,
it is helpful to attach authorities from other jurisdictions or
materials that are not easily accessible by computer. The court
actually uses Westlaw.
7. Letter briefs: Yes.
8. Filings on computer disk: No, as a general rule we do not
find disks particularly helpful. However, a disk may be a good
idea when counsel submits lengthy findings of fact and conclusions of law. If you submit a disk, include a paper copy.
9. Voir dire: The court asks the statutory questions and some
general questions, including questions on hardships and
inconveniences. Counsel must submit their general questions
in advance. The jurors are seated in the box for individual voir
10. Court hours/breaks: Trial hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. Motions and other trial
matters are conducted outside of the normal jury hours.
11. Available audio-visual equipment: We do have a large
screen and boards.
12. Using audio-visual equipment: Equipment should work for
the purpose intended, is set up in advance and shouldn’t delay
the trial. Remove or place equipment to the side after use.
13. Trial exhibits: Make all exhibits available to opposing counsel before trial and list exhibits properly on pretrial order. Mark
exhibits before trial.
14. Courtroom decorum: No.
15. Jury charges: No. However, counsel must clearly indicate by
written submissions which pattern charges they are requesting, except for the general charges that are required in civil
and all criminal cases.
16. Pattern charges: Must submit charges with the Supplemental Pretrial Order or, when permitted, at beginning of
trial. Charges after that will be considered untimely unless the
charge could not have been anticipated. Those charges may
be submitted at the close of the case. Charges in criminal cases
must be submitted prior to trial unless a charge becomes ap-