Judge Leo T. Sorokin

Born 1961 in Hartford, CT

Federal Judicial Service

Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts.

Nominated by Barack H. Obama on December 19, 2013, to a seat vacated by Joseph L. Tauro; Confirmed by the Senate on June 10, 2014.

Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, 2005-2014

First appointed to the Court April 11, 2005.


Yale College, B.A., 1983
Columbia Law School, J.D., 1991


Boston Courthouse

John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
1 Courthouse Way, Suite 2300
Boston, Massachusetts 02210


13, 5th floor

John J. Moakley Federal Courthouse - Boston, MA
John J. Moakley Federal Courthouse - Boston, MA

Courtroom Technology

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Courtroom Clerk Kellyann Belmont 617-748-4231 kellyann_belmont@mad.uscourts.gov
Docket Clerk Samantha Dore 617-748-4234 samantha_dore@mad.uscourts.gov
Court Reporter Rachel Lopez   raeufp@gmail.com
USDC Judicial Forum Survey

Civil - Case Management

Q4: What, if any, inquiries do you make about settlement prospects and/or interest in mediation at the initial scheduling conference?

A4: I generally ask about settlement and possible mediation, and I encourage the parties to notify me if/when they believe court mediation efforts might be useful.

Q5: What, if any inquiries do you make about the liklihood of trial at the initial scheduling conference?

A5: I generally ask about the likelihood of dispositive motions and the reasons therefore, and the likelihood of trial. I consider the parties' responses on these issues in setting scheduling deadlines.

Q6: What schedule do you set at the initial scheduling conference?

A6: I generally set a schedule that includes deadlines for Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures, amendments to the pleadings, written fact discovery, depositions, expert discovery, dispositive motions, and a status conference. In a typical case, the dispositive motion deadline follows the conclusion of all discovery and is approximately within twelve months of the date of the Rule 16 conference.

Q8: If so, when do you hold status conferences?

A8: I generally see the parties after the close of fact discovery, before expert discovery and the filing of dispositive motions. I also schedule status conferences at other times if the parties request them or if the circumstances in a particular case warrant further conferences.

Q9: If so, what issues do you address at status conferences?

A9: Any outstanding discovery issues, settlement prospects, the need for expert discovery, dispositive motion schedule, and likelihood of trial.

Civil - Discovery

Q10: Other than the requirements under Local Rule 16.1(D) for addressing certain discovery topics in the parties' joint statement, what, if any, discovery issues do you like counsel to be prepared to address at the initial scheduling conference?

A10: Any issues specifically presented by the circumstances of the case including, for example, whether phased discovery might be appropriate, or whether early resolution of a scope issue might limit the cost of electronic discovery.

Q12: If the parties intend to file a proposed protective order, do you require any particular format and/or a specific time for doing so?

A12: No particular format. I encourage counsel to confer and agree to such orders as appropriate, and to submit them as promptly as possible. I impose a default protective order in complex cases, which applies unless and until the parties propose their own such order. See Standing Order re: Default Protective Order in Complex Cases.

Q13: Under what circumstances would you consider a bifurcation of discovery ?

A13: I do not have any specific policies for this. I would consider it if the specific circumstances of the case warranted it, after discussion of the issue with counsel.

Q14: Given the new requirement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) regarding the proportionality of the scope of discovery, what, if any inquiry do you make about this issue at the initial scheduling conference?

A14: I generally discuss with counsel the anticipated scope of discovery, any disputes they foresee, and ways in which it might be appropriate to tailor the process to the circumstances presented by the case.

Q15: Other than the requirement that the parties confer in good faith to narrow the issues before filing any discovery motion under Local Rule 37.1(A), what, if any, additional requirements do you make of counsel before considering discovery motions?

A15: I have no additional requirements. I do encourage counsel to request a status conference with the court if they believe it might eliminate a dispute or expedite its resolution. I also often encourage counsel to submit a joint status report in lieu of discovery motion practice, with the report in repeating format stating: the discovery request and the response; the complaining party's explanation as to why more is required; and the other party's explanation as to why the response is adequate. While this is not a requirement, it often leads to a faster, less expensive resolution of discovery disputes.

Q16: Typically, do you resolve discovery motions or do you refer them to the magistrate judge?

A16: I often do resolve them myself, but I sometimes refer such motions to a magistrate judge, and I also regularly refer some civil cases to a magistrate judge for all pretrial proceedings (including such motions).

Q17: Do you typically hold a hearing on discovery?

A17: It depends on the facts of the case and the nature of the dispute.

Q18: Please describe your general practice regarding the resolution of discovery motions.

A18: If I have referred a case to a magistrate judge for all pretrial matters, they handle discovery motions. Otherwise, I review the pleadings, determine whether a hearing would be helpful, and resolve the motion as promptly as possible.

Q19: Under what circumstances will you consider emergency motions regarding discovery matters?

A19: As a general matter, I discourage such motions by urging counsel to communicate with one another and to bring disputes to my attention as soon as possible for resolution in a manner that will not disrupt the existing scheduling deadlines. However, if extraordinary circumstances justify an emergency motion, I will consider it.

Q20: Do you have any particular practices or requirements about expert disclosures?

A20: None beyond requiring compliance with Rule 26(a)(2) and Local Rule 26.4.

Q21: What, if any, expert discovery deadlines do you set at the initial scheduling conference? When do you typically set a schedule for the filing of Daubert motions?

A21: My scheduling order contains dates for expert disclosures, rebuttal reports, and depositions. I set deadlines for Daubert motions, if necessary, at the initial pretrial conference.

Q22: If the case involves a pro se litigant, do you typically have any different practices in regard to scheduling conferences, status conferences or discovery matters?

A22: If the pro se litigant is incarcerated, I often arrange for him or her to attend conferences by video, rather than in person. Also, when necessary for such litigants, I make arrangements to aid in their efforts to conduct reasonable discovery. Upon motion, I will consider relieving the parties of the obligation to confer before filing motions when pro se parties are involved in a case. Otherwise, I expect pro se parties to attempt to comply with the relevant rules and procedures.

Civil - Dispositive Motions

Q23: Other than the presumptive pages limits for memoranda under Rule 7.1(b), do you have any other requirements or preferences about the filing of dispositive motions?

A23: My requirements for dispositive motions are set forth in a standing order, attached at the end of this survey (Q78).

Q25: Do you typically allow reply briefs and/or surreply briefs?

A25: I allow reply briefs limited to 5 pages in length on all motions without advance leave of court. However, parties must seek leave of court if they wish to file surreply briefs.

Q27: Do you typically hold a hearing on motions to dismiss?

A27: Ordinarily yes, especially if the motion presents complicated questions, or if I am considering dismissing a case in its entirety.

Q30: Under what, if any, circumstances, would you allow the filing of post-argument briefs?

A30: If I explicitly request further briefing on something during or after argument, or if counsel requests permission to make a supplemental filing and I believe it would be helpful.

Civil - Patent Cases

Q31: Do you have any standing order and/or any particular practice regarding the management of patent cases? If so, please describe them.

A31: I have no order or practice distinct from the procedures I follow in general civil cases, supplemented by any specific procedures set forth in the local patent rules.

Q33: Do you have particular practice about Markman hearings? If so, please describe them including but not limited to whether you allow tutorial(s).

A33: I have no particular practice and would tailor such proceedings to the specific circumstances of the case. If counsel intends to make a PowerPoint presentation, I ask that they bring hard copies of the slides for me and for my law clerk.

Criminal Matters

Q35: Do you have any particular practices as to scheduling in criminal cases? If so, please describe them.

A35: I generally enter a pretrial scheduling order upon establishing the trial date. A copy of my general criminal scheduling order is attached (Q79).

Q38: Do you have any particular practices regarding the filing of suppression motions or hearings on suppression motions?

A38: I have no specific practices. The deadline for filing such motions is generally set by the magistrate judge before the case is returned to me, and I enforce that deadline unless the parties request otherwise and cite circumstances justifying a change. Once a motion to suppress is ripe, I review the papers promptly and set a hearing (either evidentiary or not, as warranted by the circumstances).

General Trial Practice - Pretrial Matters

Q39: Do you require the filing of a trial brief?

A39: Yes, in both civil and criminal cases. It should include a factual summary, a list of witnesses and exhibits, an estimate of how long the party's case will last, and any outstanding motions in limine or anticipated legal issues that may arise during trial. See attached order (Q80).

Q41: Do you typically hold an initial pretrial conference in criminal cases? If so, what issues do you want counsel to be able to address at each conference in addition to those addressed under Local Rule 117.1(a)?

A41: Yes. Counsel should expect to address the topics listed in the Local Rule, as well as any other specific issues or disputes they believe may be raised by the circumstances of the case and require the Court's attention.

Q42: Do you typically hold an initial pretrial conference in civil cases?

A42: Yes. At the conference, counsel should expect to address the anticipated length of trial, the need for Daubert or other pretrial motions and/or hearings, whether they wish to pursue mediation, and possible trial dates.

Q43: When do you set a deadline for the filing of proposed voir dire, proposed jury instructions and/or special verdict form, witness and exhibits lists, motions in limine? Typically, how far in advance of trial are these deadlines?

A43: These deadlines are set in an order setting the case for trial, which I typically issue following the initial pretrial conference. See attached order (Q80).

Q45: Do you set a page limit for motions in limine? If so, what is it?

A45: Yes, 20 pages, but brevity is a virtue in such motions.

Q46: Do you typically hear motions in limine at the final pretrial conference?

A46: Yes, but it depends on how many motions are filed, when they are filed, and how complex the issues raised are.

Q47: Do you typically resolve motions in limine at the final pretrial conference?

A47: It depends on how many motions are filed, when they are filed, and how complex the issues raised are.

Q48: Do you typically hear and/or resolve Daubert motions at the final pretrial conference?

A48: No. I address the filing of such motions and schedule related hearings on a case-by-case basis, with input from the parties. The timing of those events depends on the circumstances in each case, though I generally resolve such motions as far in advance of trial as is practicable.

Q49: Do you require the parties to provide a courtesy copy of trial exhibits to the Court before trial?

A49: I do not require advance submission of exhibits, but I do expect the parties to provide two court copies (one for me, and one for my law clerk) at the start of trial.

Q51: If courtesy copies of trial exhibits are required, what particular form is required?

A51: I generally prefer to receive hard/paper copies the trial exhibits in binders, unless the exhibits are so voluminous that providing them in that form is impractical.

Q52: Do you require trial exhibits to be pre-marked? If so, please describe your practice?

A52: Yes. I have no specific practice beyond expecting the parties to premark exhibits in such a way that will facilitate efficient admission of, exclusion of, and/or reference to documents and other items in the course of a jury trial.

Criminal - Scheduling Trials

Q53: Typically, when do you set a trial date in criminal cases?

A53: At the initial pretrial conference, after the case is returned to me from the magistrate judge. I do so earlier in long cases or cases involving more than four defendants. I also would establish the trial date before the initial pretrial conference upon request by a party for a sufficient reason.

Q54: Typically, when do you set a trial date in civil cases?

A54: At the initial pretrial conference, after any dispositive motions are resolved (or after the deadline for filing such motions has passed).

Q55: What is your typical trial schedule?

A55: I typically schedule trials from 9 am to 1 pm, with one mid-morning break each day, and proceed day-to-day until the trial is concluded. When the jury retires to deliberate, they stay for full days until they have reached a verdict.

Q56: In civil cases, do you set time limits for counsel for opening statements, the presentation of evidence and/or closing arguments? If so, please describe your practice?

A56: I generally do not set limits, but I do discuss the length of openings, closings, etc., with counsel before and during the trial, and I encourage counsel to proceed as efficiently as possible.

Criminal - Jury Selection

Q57: Please describe your jury selection process.

A57: I voir dire jurors myself, with follow-up questioning by the court and counsel privately at sidebar when necessary. After the panel has been cleared for cause, I seat the first group of jurors in the jury box, ask each juror to give their name and identify their job, then permit counsel to exercise peremptory strikes. I then replace the stricken jurors to refill the box, and I permit counsel to exercise peremptory strikes only on the new jurors. This process continues until both sides are out of strikes or are satisfied with the jurors seated in the box.

Q58: Under what circumstances, if any, have you or would you consider using a juror questionnaire?

A58: I only would use a questionnaire in an extraordinarily complex or high-profile case (i.e., a case in which there has been much pretrial publicity, or it otherwise might be difficult to empanel a jury).

Q59: If you would consider the use of a jury questionnaire, when and in what form should it be proposed?

A59: I would set a date for its submission in the order setting the case for trial, if I have decided to use a questionnaire for some reason. I do not require a specific form.

Q60: Have you or would you consider allowing attorney voir dire?

A60: Yes. In an extraordinarily complex or high-profile case, where a questionnaire is used, I might allow general attorney voir dire. Otherwise, I permit attorneys to question prospective jurors only on specific issues warranting follow-up questioning at sidebar.

Q61: In civil trials, typically what number of jurors do you seat?

A61: I typically seat 12 jurors in civil trials. If the trial is expected to be lengthy, I might seat 1 or 2 additional jurors as alternates.

Q62: In criminal trials, typically how many alternate jurors do you seat?

A62: I generally seat 2 alternates. In lengthy trials, I might seat more, with a maximum of 6.

General Trial Practice - Trial Practices

Q63: Do you require counsel to use the podium during openings, examination of witnesses and/or closings?

A63: Yes. I move the podium to the center of the jury box for openings and closings, and to the far end of the jury box during witness testimony.

Q65: Under what, if any, circumstances, will you allow a rebuttal case?

A65: This depends on the facts of each case; any rebuttal, if permitted, would be strictly limited in scope to evidence responding directly to the defense case.

Q66: Do you have any preferences about the use of chalks during openings and closings?

A66: Counsel may use chalks as they see fit, so long as they disclose the chalks to opposing counsel sufficiently in advance of their use such that any objections can be raised, or corrections made, without delaying the proceedings.

Q67: Do you have any particular practice in regard to jury charge conferences? If so, please describe it.

A67: I distribute a draft of my charge, prepared after reviewing counsel's proposals, in advance of the conference. Then at the conference, which occurs either in my courtroom or in the conference room behind my courtroom, counsel may raise or preserve objections to the draft.

Q70: If you have any preferences or practices about pretrial or trial matters that has not been solicited by the prior questions, please describe them here.

A70: If the same witness will be called by both parties at trial, I encourage the lawyers to consider and discuss with one another whether all of the witness's testimony can be elicited when they are called by the first party, so that the witness need appear only once rather than returning to be recalled at a later point in the trial.

Q71: If you have any particular practices as to bench trials, please describe them.

A71: I sometimes schedule bench trials to last full days (instead of half days, as I do for jury trials), or I sometimes schedule bench trials for afternoons (after jury trials and other hearings have occurred in the morning).

Criminal - Sentencing/Revocation Hearings

Q72: Do you require a sentencing memorandum in every case?

A72: I encourage, but do not require, the parties to file a sentencing memorandum in every case.

Q73: If you do not require a sentencing memorandum in every case, when would it be helpful to you?

A73: I almost always find sentencing memoranda helpful. I encourage the parties in every criminal case to address restorative justice principles in their written and oral sentencing presentations.

Q74: Under what, if any, circumstances, would you consider an expedited sentencing?

A74: Whenever there is good reason, such as if the ordinary sentencing timeline would keep the defendant in custody for longer than the sentence they face.

Q75: Do you have any particular practices regarding the presentation of victim impact statements at sentencing?

A75: In every criminal case with one or more identifiable victims, I offer to hold a status conference with the victim(s) post-conviction and pre-sentencing. Such a conference occurs on the record and with the defendant present (if they wish to be present). The purpose of the conference is for me to explain the sentencing process, including the wide range of relief a victim may request, and to answer any questions the victim(s) may have. In my experience, the victims attending these conferences uniformly appreciate them. I also permit victims to submit written impact statements and/or make oral statements at the sentencing hearing.

Standing Orders & Miscellaneous Matters

Post-Pandemic Practices

Q84: As of Fall 2022, if there are case events that you routinely conduct in person that you would consider conducting via Zoom, what are those case events and under what circumstances would you consider conducting them via Zoom?

A84: Though I prefer to hold all other proceedings in person, I would consider holding any non-evidentiary motion hearing or pretrial conference via Zoom upon request, if the request is made for a good reason.