In Uncategorized on 03/30/2023 at 12:16

Judge David Gustafson is up against The System, namely DAWSON, the new, improved (???), jim-handy electronic Czar of The Glasshouse That Vic Lundy Built. And he’s got thirteen (count ’em, thirteen) syndicated conservation easement cases lined up and waiting to do their “pretrial activity.”

The captions for Judge Gustafson’s order take up more than four pages of this six page order, so I’ll just cite to the first in numerical order of docket entry, Walker Drive Development Partners LLC, Walker Drive Manager, LLC, Tax Matters Partner, Docket No. 10748-20, filed 3/30/23.

There are enough differences among the properties and personnel involved to prevent consolidation for briefing and trial. But Judge Gustafson thinks that consolidating the cases for pretrial activity (I suppose that includes but is not limited to discovery, pretrial motions, and scheduling thereof) would be orderly.

The reason for the headline first written at the head hereof (as my looking-forward-to-the-two-Martini-lunch colleagues would say) is designating the place for trial.

“Atlanta is the requested place of trial for a five-case plurality of the thirteen cases, with Knoxville requested for three, Jacksonville for two, and one each for Birmingham, Nashville, and Tampa. Under the current configuration of the Court’s  “Dawson” case management program, cases with different requested places of trial cannot be consolidated. We will therefore make a nominal change to the requested places of trial so that all are designated for Atlanta. This change does not reflect an actual decision to try the cases in any particular location. When it is time to set the cases for trial, the Court will entertain a motion to change the place for trial.” Order, at p. 5.

Note that a principal difference between these cases is that different appraisers were used in some, although in all, counsel are the same, the properties are all in the same county, the pre-contribution highest-and-best-use is the same, “etc.” Order, at p. 5.

This situation calls for a Zoomietrial of whatever cases can be consolidated for trial and briefing. Have Zoomietrials been so flawed that only in-person trials will do? I’ve yet to see a Zoomietried decision being tossed on grounds other than those which would invalidate the decision in an in-person trial.


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