What Happens at a Pretrial Conference?

What a pretrial conference means for your court case.

Generally speaking, a pretrial conference is held a week or two prior to trial. In the context of a child custody case, for example, the conference is could be used to discuss whether both sides are ready for their case to be heard, which entails that the conference is a discussion between the judge and the lawyers on both sides. At such a conference, a trial date may be set for the case.

In effect, the pretrial conference is a meeting of the parties and their attorneys prior to a trial. The conference may be requested by a party in the case or ordered by the court itself. Moreover, pretrial conferences may be used in Florida civil and criminal cases alike.

The specifics of how a pretrial conference is to be conducted is governed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.

Pretrial Conference Procedure

Rule 1.200 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure governs how a pretrial conference is carried out in civil cases. The rule states that the “court itself may or shall on the timely motion of any party require the parties to appear for a conference” to consider and determine the following issues:

  • Simplification of the issues to be presented at trial
  • The necessity or desirability of any amendments to pleadings
  • Whether it is possible to obtain admissions of fact and admission of documents that will avoid unnecessary proof
  • Limiting the number of expert witnesses used in the case
  • The potential use of juror notebooks
  • Any other matters permitted under subdivision (a) of Rule 1.200, which pertains to case management conference procedures

One way of thinking about the pretrial conference is that courts and parties use these conferences to ensure a trial runs smoothly. From expert witness procedure to overall simplification of trial issues, the primary goal of the pretrial conference is to have a clear understanding of how the trial will proceed.

This benefits both parties (and the court itself) since attorneys will be able to prepare a case that protects the legal rights of their clients based on the terms and issues discussed.

Seeking the legal counsel of an attorney who is comfortable with the procedures of a pretrial conference gives you the confidence needed to know your case is in good legal hands. 

If you have questions regarding your civil case, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]