The Honorable Howell W. Melton
Senior United States District Judge
Case & Trial Management Preferences:
- Judge Melton schedules oral argument on dispositive motions as needed.
- Judge Melton may allow telephonic hearings on routine matters, upon request of out-of-town counsel. Otherwise, counsel or pro se parties are required to appear in person at all scheduled proceedings.
Judge Melton generally requires the use of alternative dispute resolution devices such as court-annexed, non-binding arbitration and mediation. Judge Melton does not conduct settlement conferences. Parties shall notify the court immediately upon settlement of cases by calling chambers and by filing a written notice of settlement with the Clerk’s Office.
Judge Melton personally conducts pretrial conferences. There is no standing order regarding pretrial conference. Orders are entered following the pretrial conference.
- All cases are set for trial for a date certain at the pretrial conference.
- Proposed jury instructions, verdict forms, voir dire, and trial briefs (optional in most cases) should be filed by the deadline set forth in an order entered following the pretrial conference. That deadline is generally 5-10 working days before the trial date. A courtesy copy should be sent to chambers. The jury instructions and verdict should also be provided to the court on a disk in WordPerfect format. Parties should make their best efforts to submit Joint Proposed Jury Instructions and a Joint Proposed Verdict Form.
- Judge Melton personally conducts voir dire. The parties are afforded an opportunity to ask brief, follow-up questions upon the conclusion of the Court’s questioning.
- Each side is limited to a total of three peremptory challenges. In multiple party cases, Judge Melton will consider requests for additional peremptory challenges.
- Judge Melton generally honors the parties’ reasonable requests for time to make opening statements. Exhibits may be used in opening statements, if there are no objections, with prior approval. Plaintiffs are not allowed to make a rebuttal during opening statements.
- Daubert hearings are conducted prior to trial, where appropriate. If Daubert motions are anticipated, parties should so note in their Pretrial Statement so the Court can set a deadline for filing such motions.
- Exhibit lists and Witness lists (an original and three copies) shall be filed with the Courtroom Deputy prior to jury selection. Parties shall adhere to the requirements of Local Rule 3.07 regarding exhibits.
- The deadline for filing briefs is set forth in the order entered following the pretrial conference.
- At the conclusion of the trial, the Court will set a deadline for the filing of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and will require the parties also to submit them to chambers on a disk in WordPerfect format.
Judge Melton personally conducts status conferences. The Defendant is not required to be present.
Change of Plea
Judge Melton usually refers changes of plea to the assigned magistrate judge.
Counsel should notify chambers if a scheduled sentencing is anticipated to last longer than 30 minutes. Counsel may submit sentencing memoranda if the sentencing involves a novel issue of fact or law.
Discovery (Civil and Criminal cases)
Discovery issues are generally referred to the assigned magistrate judge.
Case & Trial Management Forms
Ft. Myers Judges
Official Court Reporters
Guide to Judicial Practices in Florida's Federal Courts