Common Procedural Questions & Answers

How do I submit a request to have someone excused from attending an ADR session in person?

A person required to attend an ADR session may be excused from attending in person only after a showing that personal attendance would impose an extraordinary or otherwise unjustifiable hardship. The request must be made, no fewer than 14 days before the date set for the session, by letter to the ADR Magistrate Judge (sent care of the ADR Unit or emailed to, simultaneously copying all counsel and the neutral. The letter must:

  • Set forth all considerations that support the request.
  • State realistically the amount in controversy in the case.
  • Indicate whether the other party or parties and the neutral join in or object to the request.
  • Be accompanied by a proposed order.

The request must not be filed or disclosed to the assigned judge. The request should be addressed to:

ADR Magistrate Judge c/o ADR Unit 
United States District Court
Northern District of California
450 Golden Gate Avenue, 16th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102

My ADR deadline is approaching and I will not meet it. How do I get the deadline extended?

To extend the deadline to complete an ADR Process, the parties must obtain permission from the assigned judge. The ADR Unit has no authority to extend any case deadlines. If a neutral has been appointed, the parties should consult with the neutral before submitting a stipulation and order setting a new deadline. 

Can the parties have input into the selection of the neutral assigned to their case?

Yes, but under no circumstances should the parties simply submit a proposed order calling for the appointment of a specific neutral as the court cannot guarantee that any individual neutral is available at any given time. Parties wishing to have input into the selection of the neutral for their case must first contact the ADR Unit.

  • For cases assigned to the court's Mediation or Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) programs, after consultation, the parties may submit to the ADR Unit a list of 5 or more mutually agreed-upon names for consideration and the ADR Unit will make best efforts to appoint someone from that list.
  • For cases in which a Settlement Conference With a Magistrate Judge is requested, the parties may advise the assigned judge of their preference.
  • If the parties strongly prefer one specific person on one of the court's neutral panels, the parties should hire that person privately and formally select private ADR in lieu of the court-sponsored ADR processes. See ADR L.R. 3-2. 

How do I object to a neutral appointment?

Within 7 days of learning the identity of a proposed neutral, a party who objects to service by that neutral must deliver to the ADR Unit and all other counsel a writing that specifies the bases for the objection. The ADR Director shall determine whether the proposed neutral will serve or whether another neutral should be appointed. See ADR L.R. 2-6(4).

How do I report a violation of the ADR Local Rules?

If you wish to report a violation of the ADR Local Rules other than ADR L.R. 7 (which governs judicially hosted settlement conferences), you may informally contact the ADR Director who will attempt to resolve the matter.

A formal complaint of a violation must be submitted in writing to the ADR Magistrate Judge or emailed to, and be accompanied by a declaration. Copies of the complaint and declaration must be sent contemporaneously to all other parties, the neutral and the ADR Unit. The complaint and declaration must be marked “confidential-not to be filed” and must neither be filed nor disclosed to the assigned judge. See ADR L.R. 2-4.

How do I schedule an ADR Phone Conference?

Filing a Request for ADR Telephone Conference (.pdf) in accordance with ADR L.R. 3-6 will result in the ADR Unit's scheduling an ADR Phone Conference. Learn more about ADR Telephone Conferences.