By Judge Pamela B. Johnson, Knoxville
A few years ago, due to a significant increase in motion practice in the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, we established rules for dispositive and non-dispositive motions to give practitioners some parameters. The rule’s latest iteration is Tennessee Compilation Rules and Regulations 0800-02-21-.18 (August, 2019), and it’s available here—just scroll to page 13. This blog post is devoted solely to non-dispositive motions. See subdivision (2) of the rule on this particular topic.
Non-dispositive motions are filed for a variety of reasons. These motions often arise out of discovery disputes or involve requests to extend deadlines or continue hearings. Regardless of the type of non-dispositive motion, some of these motions are unopposed.
The non-dispositive motion should contain clear, concise statements about the relief sought and the facts and law supporting the requested relief.
As the rule suggests, the judge decides a non-dispositive motion on the written materials only. But if the case presents an unusual circumstance where argument would be helpful, you may ask for it. If the judge grants a hearing request, most likely it will be held by telephone. In rare cases, an in-person hearing is appropriate.
The moving party may also file a proposed order. These are helpful with routine requests. The other parties have five days to file responses. After that time, the judge will review the non-dispositive motion on its merits and might sign your proposed order. Alternatively, the judge might draft his or her own order, to explain the law and analysis and give specific orders.
Finally, when the motion involves an agreed matter, the parties are encouraged to file an agreed motion and order. However, if a party is self-represented, you can’t sign his or her name “by permission.”