Civil Case Management
Judge Rutherford follows the Local Civil Rules for the Northern District of Texas and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (available at http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/rules-and-orders). Counsel and self-represented (pro se) parties must read and follow the applicable rules and comply with the mandates set forth in Dondi Props. Corp. v. Commerce Savs. & Loan Ass’n, 121 F.R.D. 284 (N.D. Tex. 1988) (en banc) (per curiam) (available at http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Dondi.PDF).
Rule 16 Conference
Judge Rutherford routinely conducts a preliminary pretrial conference. Lead and/or local counsel and pro se parties should expect to appear in person at the conference. Leave to appear telephonically will not be granted absent extraordinary circumstances.
Before filing a nondispositive motion, the moving party’s counsel, or an unrepresented moving party, must confer with the attorney for each party, or any unrepresented party, affected by the requested relief to determine whether the motion is opposed. Conferences are not required for motions to dismiss, motions for judgment on the pleadings, motions for summary judgment, or when a conference is not possible. Each motion for which a conference is required must include a certificate of conference that complies with Local Civil Rule 7.1(b).
Judge Rutherford does not require paper copies of electronically-filed documents.
Judge Rutherford routinely sets discovery motions for hearing on an expedited basis. She allows oral argument on nondiscovery motions on a case-by-case basis. Counsel should advise the Court if they believe oral argument would be particularly helpful in a given matter. Judge Rutherford follows the practice in this district of granting oral argument when a newly-licensed lawyer (i.e., a lawyer practicing for less than seven years) would argue.
Judge Rutherford routinely grants requests to hold nonevidentiary hearings on a virtual platform (i.e., Zoom), provided the party making the request does so at least three business days in advance of the scheduled hearing.
Movants should submit proposed orders via the Court’s Electronic Case Filing system.
Parties must not unreasonably file pleadings, motions, or other papers under seal. Rather, the parties must attempt to file unsealed as much of a pleading, motion, or other paper as they reasonably can without undermining the protections conferred by any applicable protective order. Private or sensitive information, including social-security numbers, taxpayer-identification numbers, financial-account numbers, minors’ names, and dates of birth, should be redacted from any document filed with the Court.
Judge Rutherford strictly enforces Local Civil Rule 83.10, requiring local counsel in all cases where lead counsel appearing in a case does not reside or maintain his or her principal office in this district. Parties desiring to proceed without local counsel must obtain leave by filing a written motion.
In a case preliminary assigned to her, parties may consent to have all proceedings in the case conducted by Judge Rutherford. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Consent to the authority of the magistrate judge is voluntary, and any party is free to withhold consent without adverse substantive consequences. However, a magistrate judge may often be in the best position to provide a speedy, just, and inexpensive adjudication of a civil case while still preserving the right of direct appeal to the court of appeals. The parties may utilize the electronic-consent option available through Court’s Electronic Case Filing system (ECF) at https://ecf.txnd.uscourts.gov to evidence their consent.
Electronic Case Filing (ECF) System
Judge Rutherford requires all counsel and self-represented parties appearing in a case to enroll in the Court’s Electronic Case Filing (ECF) System. Information about how to register for the ECF System is available at http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/ecf-registration. Questions concerning electronic filing procedures should be directed to the ECF Help Desk at (866) 243-2866. Enrollment in the ECF System helps to ensure that all interested parties receive copies of court orders and other filings and to preserve an official record of the case. Communications through e-mail or phone, as opposed to the ECF System, lack important safeguards, and they do not constitute official filings included as part of the record.
Communications with the Court
Judge Rutherford discourages counsel and self-represented parties from contacting chambers other than through the ECF System. Except in rare emergencies, or unless otherwise directed by the Court, do not email the Court or any court staff. Furthermore, parties may not bring the Court procedural or scheduling questions that can be addressed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Local Civil Rules for the Northern District of Texas, the Court’s Scheduling Order, or any prior Court order entered in the case. The Court’s staff will not discuss any substantive aspects of a specific case, the status of a pending motion, give legal advice, opine on the Court’s preferences in a motion to the Court, or predict what the Court will do on a given matter. If there are extenuating circumstances regarding a pending motion that should be brought to the Court’s immediate attention, please electronically file an appropriate notice or request for relief via the ECF System.
Law Clerk /Extern Application Procedures
Law clerk applicants must use the OSCAR system (available at https://oscar.uscourts.gov) and follow the application requirements, including strict observation of any deadlines. Extern applicants may send a cover letter, with current resume and law school transcript, to Judge Rutherford’s chambers. Judge Rutherford prefers that externs have completed at least two years of law school.