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7th Circuit panel visits Indy law school

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A 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel converged on the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis campus Tuesday to hear three appellate arguments in its first visit in more than a decade.

Trading in the Chicago courthouse for the law school's Wynne Courtroom, the three-judge panel of Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, Judge Michael Kanne from Lafayette, and Judge John D. Tinder from Indianapolis heard arguments in:

United States v. Ricky L. Fines and Leroy Miller, Nos. 08-1069, 08-1089, is a combined criminal sentencing case from the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana's South Bend Division. Both defendants are appealing their federal firearms convictions and sentences, arguing on evidentiary and procedural issues, including whether Miller can be defined as a gun collector.

Jonathan S. McGlothan, M.D. v. Tracey and Eric Wallace, No. 07-4059, is a case that delves into expert testimony issues involving a LASIK eye surgery medical malpractice case from the Southern District of Indiana's Terre Haute Division. McGlothan wants the 7th Circuit to reverse the $678,793 jury award against him and dismiss the case.

Sondra J. Hansen and William R. Hansen, individually and on behalf of C.H. v. Board of Trustees of Hamilton Southeastern School Corp. and Dimitri B. Alano, No. 08-1205, a case from the Southern District of Indiana's Indianapolis Division, stems from a former high school band teacher's arrest and admittance in 2004 that he had sexual contact with a teenage female student in exchange for good grades. This federal suit eventually filed by the girl's parents alleges the school district was liable for Alano's criminal acts as they happened during his employment. The District Court granted summary judgment for the school corporation, and the attorneys argued about whether that was properly done and whether the judge lost jurisdiction of all state and other federal claims relating to Title IX.

The judges lobbed questions at the various attorneys standing at the podium, and Chief Judge Easterbrook interjected humor that drew laughs among the law school crowd, such as his opening comment about the medical malpractice jury award.

"A $700,000 award for loss of night vision seems high ... for that, you could just hire a chauffer," he said.

The court periodically visits different law schools to hear arguments. Law school spokeswoman Elizabeth Allington said this is the first time the federal appellate court has come here since March 9, 1994.

More than 100 students and faculty attended; after 90 minutes of arguments about half of the observers remained for a question-and-answer session where the judges answered general questions about their court and positions. Questions ranged from the balance between briefs and in-person arguments, the most difficult part of the judges' jobs, how they work their law clerks, and how they've felt about being reversed by the nation's highest court.

The judges told the audience that 55 percent of its final work comes in the form of written opinions and 45 percent in unprecedential orders, and that the court strives to issue a decision within two or three months of an argument but that it can range anywhere from a week to more than a year.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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