Thursday, November 30, 2006

USA v. NAR - Initial status hearing before U.S. District Judge Filip (written on 10/26/2005)

While attending the DOJ/FTC workshop yesterday, I had a colleague sit in on the initial status hearing in the US v. NAR case.

The DOJ demonstrated an interest in settling the matter, but added that another Judge (Magistrate Judge Denlow, who is also assigned to the case) should preside over any settlement discussions given that this would be a bench (non-jury) trial). Judge Filip agreed. NAR also demonstrated an interest in settling the matter, but did not want Magistrate Judge Denlow (presumably not because they have anything against him, but because they want everything in front of the trial judge) to handle any settlement conference. DOJ lawyers made a point of telling the judge that it wasn’t until just a few days ago that NAR demonstrated any willingness to settle the case (he was presumably referring to statements made in the status report that I circulated on Monday).

NAR, as was stated in the status report, intends to file a motion to dismiss. The DOJ suggested that any such motion be delayed until settlement discussions occurred.

Judge Filip entered an order providing for a briefing schedule on NAR’s motion to dismiss. The motion is due December 5, after which DOJ will have 60 days to respond, and NAR will have 30 days after that to reply. After the motion has been fully briefed, the parties will appear before Judge Filip (February 1, 2006), at which time he will refer the case to Magistrate Judge Denlow for settlement discussions. Thus settlement discussions likely will not occur until March 2006 (at least discussions that are ‘moderated’ by a federal judge).

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