In the context of patent cases, it is well recognized that the court may conduct a tutorial, the purpose of which is to receive expert testimony for background and education on the technology implicated by the presented claim construction issues in assisting the court in the task of construing the patent. See, e.g., Starpay.com L.L.C. v. Visa Int’l Serv. Assoc., 2005 WL 1552769, at *1 (N.D. Tex.).
The use of tutorials is not, however, limited to patent cases, or even to technology cases. See, e.g., In Re Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price Litigation, 230 F.R.D. 61, 67 (D. Mass. 2005).
Some courts will use them as a pre-curser to Daubert hearings. Generally, they are with no cross-examination; no-transcripts and an agreement that no testimony can be used in subsequent Daubert hearings.
Courts may find them very helpful. See Hall v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 947 F.Supp. 1387 (at the outset of proceedings after remand from the MDL, counsel for all sides presented an all-day “tutorial” to the court on the complex science involved in these cases. The tutorial demonstrated the need for and prompted the court to appoint the technical advisors).