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Indiana gets new federal magistrate

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For the first time since the early 1980s, the Southern District of Indiana has gotten approval to hire a new full-time federal magistrate.

The U.S. Judicial Conference, which is the policy-making arm of the federal court system, approved during its annual fall meeting on Tuesday the Indianapolis-based magistrate spot along with three others throughout the country.

“We are very pleased about this, and it’ll certainly help our magistrates process their work even more efficiently,” said Chief Judge Richard Young, a member of the Judicial Conference that approved the measure. “We have one of the highest weighted caseloads in the country, and so this will help us process our work more quickly and get the litigants through the system a little quicker.”

Congress had previously authorized the Judicial Conference to create these new positions, and the funding for the magistrate begins April 1, 2011. The conference’s Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System had agreed in June that the Southern District of Indiana should get an additional magistrate since it’s one of the busiest courts nationally. Chief Judge Young sat on that committee, as well.

With ongoing budget and economic woes, the chief judge said it’s not likely that Congress will approve any new judgeships in the near future and that means other judicial help is needed. Chief Judge Young said the magistrate would be based in Indianapolis where space is available, and that one of the points the committee had considered was how the District wouldn’t have to find or rent space as a budget expense.

Applications for the position will be accepted in the coming weeks, according to Chief Judge Young. Once those applications are received, a merit-selection panel will review the applications and interview the individuals who apply before recommending five finalists for the District judges to consider.

The process will mirror what happened earlier this year when the District received 52 applications for a magistrate vacancy, created when U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson was elevated to a federal judgeship. In August, the court selected Indianapolis attorney Mark Dinsmore to take that position, and he’s currently awaiting a background check before he begins his work.

Chief Judge Young said this process is different only in that the court will be operating at full judge and magistrate capability and not trying to fill a vacancy. The new magistrate will join current full-time Magistrate Judges Tim Baker, Debra McVicker Lynch, William Hussman, and Dinsmore; as well as part-time Magistrates Craig McKee and Mike Naville who handle search warrant and criminal matters; and recalled Magistrate Kennard Foster.

Aside from that magistrate addition, the Southern District is also watching for possible impact from another Judicial Conference action that created a pilot project allowing cameras in some District Courts. The Southern District was part of a similar project in the early 1990s and that could make it a contender for this new project, though which courts will be allowed to participate hasn’t been decided.

What has been determined is that participating courts will record proceedings at the trial judge’s discretion, and that all parties must give their consent. The Federal Judicial Center will conduct a study on the pilot and provide reports during the first two years and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts will pay for any equipment and training that’s needed. The conference’s Committee on Court Administration and Case Management will flush out the details and logistics, though no timeline exists for now.

“Technology has changed so much and you just didn’t have social media networks and things like Facebook in the 90s,” Chief Judge Young said. “We want to see how this plays out now, in this new world of public access.”

In addition to the cameras and magistrate actions, the Judicial Conference also:

- Approved a new strategic plan for the federal judiciary that focuses on enhancing court accessibility, timeliness and efficiency, as well as attracting and retaining judicial and court executive talent, and efforts for increased education and training for judges and staff on various court issues. The plan is available online.

- Found a continuing need for all authorized bankruptcy judgeships -- 316 permanent and 36 temporary positions, and recommended that Congress not eliminate any of them in light of a 20 percent increase in filings between June 2009 and June 2010. The Senate is considering a bill that would create 13 additional bankruptcy judgeships and convert 22 existing temporary ones into permanent spots.

- Approved the creation of a public access program involving the Government Printing Office, American Association of Law Libraries, and Administrative Office of U.S. Courts that would offer free training and education to the public about the Public Access And Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. The program would also exempt from billing the first $50 of quarterly usage by a participating library.
 

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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