In my last post, I shared with you items 1 through 5 on my checklist to help guide you through the Pennsylvania Trial Courts. In this post, I will now share with you items 6 through 10.
6. Call of the List/Rule Returnable – Many counties have them. The similarities stop there. You need to find out if the call of the list/rule returnable is a paper filing date or if you need to appear in Court. You need to know since you don’t want to miss a court appearance nor do you want to waste time and show up when it is just a paper filing deadline.
7. Electronic-Filing – Not all of our counties have it. So you need to know if they do. Why? First, it might be mandatory. Second, it could save you time. Third, if you register, you might be agreeing to service by email. Fourth, you will receive orders and pleadings as soon as they are filed.
8. Public Access System – It is the system in some of our counties that allows you to access the Court’s dockets and pleadings. Each county is different. You need to know if they have a Public Access System for 2 reasons. First, it will allow you to immediately access the Court’s records. Second, if you can access the records then the public can also access the records. Be careful of what you file and say. If you need it to be confidential then you might need to file it under seal.
9. Voir Dire - Pa Rule of Civil Procedure 220.1 governs Voir Dire or the questioning of potential jurors. The Rule grants the discretion to the Court as to the conduct of Voir Dire. As a result, each County is different. In fact, there are even differences among Judges in each County. First, You need to find out who conducts the Voir Dire, is it the Judge, a Clerk or the attorneys? Second, will the Court permit you to submit proposed questions for the Voir Dire? Some Judges permit it, others do not permit any questions other then set forth in Rule 220.1. Finally, what information, if any, will you have about the proposed jurors?
10. Local Counsel – Last and certainly not least you might need to get local counsel. Do your research. 9 times out of 10 you should have local counsel.