The Federal Bar Association - an excellent group that is worth joining (disclosure: I am a member) - recently held a panel of Northern District judges. Here are my notes regarding Judge Zagel's comments:

  • The most valuable cost control tool Judge Zagel has found is an early deposition, often of a 30(b)(6) designee, allowing for a second deposition later in the case. The early deposition tends to narrow discovery and case issues.
  • Clerks write first drafts of Judge Zagel's opinions, with one clerk taking even cases and the other taking odd numbered cases. Clerks can write first drafts because a majority of cases are inadequately prosecuted or defended and, therefore, do not result in motions that are difficult, close calls.
  • Judge Zagel writes 10-15% of his own opinions.
  • Judge Zagel does voir dire by himself. Counsel do not ask questions.