A few days ago, I noted that the new District Court of Connecticut website now posts the federal judge’s Chambers Practices online. For employment law practitioners, two of the judge’s chambers practices refer to the judge’s views on discrimination cases and the use or overuse of dispositive motions on such claims.
Judge Alvin Thompson and Judge Christopher F. Droney each take a different perspective that is useful to keep in mind when practicing before that judge.
Judge Thompson believes that:
dispositive motions are overused. In discrimination cases, he rarely grants motions for summary judgment that dispose of the entire case. Judge Thompson has been experimenting with pre-argument conferences for dispositive motions. He finds that conferences of this sort encourage discussion regarding the handling of a particular case. He uses the conferences when he sees something in a case that needs to be resolved to move the case forward and promote efficiency. For example, when he receives a motion to amend a complaint he may call in the parties to try to reach an agreement on how to simplify the complaint and then rule orally on the motion. If a motion to dismiss is filed, Judge Thompson may call in the parties for a conference to see if the issues can be resolved by an amended complaint.
Judge Droney, on the other hand, takes a differing view:
Judge Droney does not require pre-filing conferences. He believes that there has been an increase in the number of dispositive motions because of the nature of the cases filed in federal court. In employment cases, for example, many summary judgment motions and motions to dismiss are being filed. He believes that most of these motions have merit and need to be considered by the court.
(For the record, the chambers practices of other district court judges are silent on this topic.)
Obviously, each judge considers each case on the merits and practitioners shouldn’t read too much into these comments. Lawyers have long known which judges might be more receptive to summary judgment motions than others.
But for employment law practitioners, this example confirms that even in a small state like Connecticut, judges comes from different perspectives when deciding such cases. For clients with cases in the courts, finding lawyers who are familiar with the judges’ perspectives can help shape the strategy of the case as well.