Shakespeare et al v. Novant Healthcare Inc. et al
ORDER that the Court finds the imposition of time limits for the presentation of opening statements, evidence, and closing arguments is necessary and appropriate in the trial of this case. Accordingly, the Court finds that a fifteen-hour time limit per side is reasonable. Signed by District Judge Frank D. Whitney on 2/5/24. (clc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
CASE NO. 3:22-CV-00317-FDW-DCK
SONYA JACKSON-SHAKESPEARE AND
PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL; FABIOLA
PIERCY; AND NOVANT HEALTHCARE
THIS MATTER is before the Court sua sponte following the Court’s review of the
parties’ Supplemental Jointly Proposed Pretrial Order, (Doc. No. 85). Based on the Court’s review
of the parties’ proposed witness lists and proffered testimony, the parties’ exhibit lists, and the
parties’ estimates of trial time, the Court finds the imposition of time limits for the presentation of
opening statements, evidence, and closing arguments is necessary and appropriate in the trial of
this case. In so finding, the Court has balanced the interests of justice as well as the parties’
interests in this case, including the need for improved efficiency in the presentation of evidence
while also ensuring the fundamental fairness to each party at trial. See Raynor v. G4S Secure Sols.
(USA), Inc., 805 F. App’x. 170, 178 (4th Cir. 2020) (“Efficiency is an important value in our
judicial system, but it is not the only one. There comes a point at which the pursuit of trial
efficiency undermines the fundamental fairness of a trial.”); see also Benjamin v. Sparks, 986 F.3d
332, 344-45 (4th Cir. 2021).
Accordingly, the Court finds that a fifteen-hour time limit per side is reasonable and will
allow the parties to have a fair chance to present their case to the jury, including the presentation
of opening statements, evidence, and closing arguments. Counsel’s questioning of witnesses on
behalf of their client—whether by direct or cross examination—will be charged against counsel’s
allotted time. The Court will exclude from the fifteen-hour limitation jury selection, as well as
any time used to make and resolve objections, unless it appears counsel is unreasonably abusing
this exclusion, at which time the Court will provide counsel with a warning.
Trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 4, 2024. The Court is confident this gives
the parties sufficient notice and adequate time to craft their case within the time limitations
Finally, should the parties confer and collectively agree that a judicial settlement
conference would aid the parties in resolving this matter, counsel should contact Chambers to so
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Signed: February 5, 2024
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