Daman Cantrell District Judge

Courtroom Protocol for Attorneys

Expectations of the Court: The Court expects all counsel to conduct themselves with civility and professionalism as expressed in an excellent Tulsa Lawyer article by a past Tulsa County Bar Association President. This article "Legal CPR: Civility, Professionalism, Respect" is attached to all scheduling orders and is available in the Courtroom. While the practice of law is by definition often defined by conflict, the highest standards of our profession can be achieved with such "Legal CPR."

Scheduling Orders: While the Court does not expect a "motion to enter", an agreed scheduling order should be submitted within the first 30-60 days of service. The Court may send parties a scheduling order or order a scheduling conference on its own motion if this is not achieved.

Download a copy of a Scheduling Order

Disposition Dockets: Normally a case will be set for disposition docket if there is no observable activity after 6 months of service pursuant to Rule 9 of the Rules for District Courts. The Court may require written notice to show cause why a matter should not be dismissed without prejudice for inactivity under Rule 9, or tit. 12 section 1083 if there has been no activity for 12 months. Please notify the Court’s minute clerk if your case settles, especially if there is a briefing pending.

Under the new tort reform statute, a case may be dismissed without notice if service has not be made within 180 days.

Motions to compel: Please follow the local rule which requires counsel to confer by telephone and indicate to the Court that the discussion was not successful. Please notify the Court's minute clerk if you resolve your motion after filing it and it is set for hearing. (as well as dispositive motions that are set for hearing, for that matter).

Briefings: It is critical when briefing matters to be sure that a "courtesy copy" is sent to the Court. The clerk's office will not send one, normally. This is essential so that motions can be docketed for a response and a prompt ruling. The Court uses a new lawyer or third year law student as a law clerk/ bailiff and this person is in charge of docketing all motions. You can contact this person identified on the home page of this website. The Court is not offended by calls if a ruling is overdue, in fact,  these calls are welcomed as matters sometimes fail to be docketed when courtesy copies are not sent or other matters cause delays. Please keep in mind the Court has over 800 cases on its caseload and while a ruling should be expected within 30 days of when it is fully briefed and "at issue", it is not always possible to achieve this goal for these reasons.

Pretrial conferences: Normally all cases should obtain a pretrial conference date when entering a scheduling order. These dates can be obtained from the Court's minute clerk. Pretrial conferences will be staggered every 15 minutes, if additional time is needed or a record from the court reporter, kindly advise the minute clerk in advance.

Jury Instructions: Jury instructions should be sent to the Court's law clerk no later than Friday before trial. They may be e-mailed in Word format. The Court's law clerk email is available on the home page of this website. Parties should cooperate on instructions and submit a set of joint instructions and separate instructions upon which they cannot agree. Please do not submit two complete sets of different instructions. The Court will almost always follow OUJI's in areas covered, unless counsel has specific caselaw to the contrary or more on point with the case.

Electronic Devices: Court administration has projectors and a screen available for checkout in advance for counsel. When using one's own equipment, if there are video presentations, counsel may set up on the Friday before trial upon appointment with the Court. Counsel are strongly encouraged to try out all DVDs and other electronic equipment in the courtroom before the jury is present to make sure there are no difficulties and the jury is not kept waiting.

Trial details: Whenever possible, motions in limine of a "garden variety" can be handled morning of trial. Usually trial will begin at 1:30 pm. If more time is needed or an earlier ruling needed on motions in limine or a Daubert hearing conducted, please notify the Court at pretrial conference or earlier if possible.

Whenever possible, counsel should discuss before trial exhibits and objections, and pre-admit exhibits before the jury is selected where there are no objections. This will save time in not having to do the "evidence dance" where there are no controversies. Exhibits so admitted may be used during opening and closing.

The courtroom's acoustics are somewhat difficult because of the air conditioning and heating system which is controlled by engineers downstairs. Because of this, it is often impossible to hear jurors and opposing counsel without using wireless microphones which the Court has provided. Especially to obtain an accurate record from the Court Reporter, the Court appreciates counsel and jurors using these microphones to deal with the acoustics.

Counsel may bring bottled water and coffee into the courtrooms as well as jurors. Expect breaks every 55 minutes or so, with some exceptions. Normally lunch will be one hour. Counsel may remain in the courtroom over the lunch hour, with permission from the Court. Breaks will normally last 15 minutes.

Voir Dire Examination: Normally 19 jurors are put into the jury box in a civil case and 23 in a criminal case, with seat No. 1 being the alternate. Counsel should follow District Court Rule 6 which states among other things "Counsel shall scrupulously guard against injecting any argument in their voir dire examination and shall refrain from asking a juror how he would decide hypothetical questions involving law or facts." The Court will begin examination with a general description of the juror's basic information such as employment, area of residence, family, previous jury experience, and other matters specific to the case that will be discussed with counsel prior to such examination. Counsel should avoid giving extensive personal information about themselves other than a basic introduction.

Trial Practice: Please remember to rise when making objections, and to refrain from using "speaking objections" which may tend to coach witnesses. If the Court needs additional detail for the objection, it will ask. Do not talk over witnesses or opposing counsel. (the court reporter cannot take all this down). Do not direct argument to opposing counsel directly but to the Court. Normally closing argument will be limited to 30 minutes in routine civil cases, perhaps less. Please stand each time the jury or judge enters or leaves the courtroom. Also please stand when addressing the Court. Please treat witnesses with respect, even if Counsel disagrees with testimony. If you feel the witness did not answer your question, try to reask the question or ask the Court to assist you.

Please avoid having the jury wait and try to discuss in advance with the Court of your anticipated breaks in schedule or delay with witnesses arriving. Please wait for the  Court Reporter to record an exhibit before proceeding with questions. You do not need to ask permission of the Court to approach your own witness, unless the witness has been declared hostile or is the opposing party. Counsel are free to move about the courtroom rather than standing at the podium, if they can be heard in the poor acoustics (see above).

Refreshing recollection of the witness with a document that has not been admitted into evidence should be done silently, rather than reading the document into the record in the presence of the jury. Please refrain from argument in opening statements. Use this time to show the "roadmap" of what the testimony will be.

And, as noted in the article on Professionalism, the words of William Shakespeare are relevant in the courtroom even today:

"And do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends."

William Shakespeare – The Taming of the Shrew Act 1, Scene 2.

Courtroom Protocol for Jurors

Men and women shall dress in the appropriate attire for Court, no torn, ripped, offensive and/or revealing attire is allowed. Men must remove their hats in the Court.

Cellular phones, pagers or other electronic devices may not be activated in the Courtroom. Under no circumstances will cellular phones be permitted in the jury deliberation room by jurors during deliberations without permission of the court.

The Presiding Judge shall be in charge of the Jury Panel and shall excuse and discharge those jurors not engaged when their services are no longer required.

Jurors shall be summoned to appear for Petit Jury terms of one week duration pursuant to the annual schedule established and made public by the presiding Judge.

For any additional help or assistance,
please contact us at:

(918) 596-5390
Fax: (918) 596-5402
500 South Denver Avenue,
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103-3832

Minute Clerk
Melissa Norris 596-5392

Law Clerk/Bailiff
David Williams, J.D.

Court Reporter
Kim White

Tulsa District Court's website
Judge Cantrell's docket (Civil Division)