Federal Bar Update: Court launches new website, case management plan

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FedBarMaley-sigSouthern District’s new website – The Southern District’s website is revamped, with a new and improved look and feel. The case opinion search feature remains and allows searching by judge and/or date. It can be a useful tool to get recent standards, for instance, on common issues.

Southern District’s new case management plan – The Southern District has a new version of its Uniform Case Management Plan, effective Dec. 10. It is available on the court’s website under the Local Rules and Orders tab. It has several significant changes, so practitioners should ensure that colleagues, paralegals and secretaries start with the revised form off the court’s website.

One notable provision is the following: “Within 14 days after the non-expert discovery deadline, and consistent with the certification provisions of Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 11(b) the party with the burden of proof shall file a statement of the claims or defenses it intends to prove at trial, stating specifically the legal theories upon which the claims or defenses are based.”

Also, regarding final witness and exhibit lists, the Uniform Plan provides, “All parties shall file and serve their final witness and exhibit lists on or before _____ [no later than 14 months from Anchor Date]. This list should reflect the specific potential witnesses the party may call at trial. It is not sufficient for a party to simply incorporate by reference ‘any witness listed in discovery’ or such general statements. The list of final witnesses shall include a brief synopsis of the expected testimony.”

Northern District’s new chair of Local Rules Committee – After many years of distinguished leadership and service as chair of the Northern District’s Local Rules Committee, Magistrate Judge Roger Cosbey is passing the baton to Magistrate Judge John Martin. The committee has been very active in improving and simplifying the court’s Local Rules during Judge Cosbey’s tenure. Any comments or suggestions on the court’s Local Rules are welcome, and should be sent to clerk Robert Trgovich.

7th Circuit Standards of Professional Conduct – For more than 20 years, the Standards for Professional Conduct Within the 7th Federal Judicial Circuit have been in existence. They provide useful guidance, but their Preamble states, “These standards shall not be used as a basis for litigation or for sanctions or penalties. Nothing in these standards supersedes or detracts from exiting disciplinary codes or alters existing standards of conduct against which lawyer negligence may be determined. These standards should be reviewed and followed by all judges and lawyers participating in any proceeding in this Circuit.”

In the Northern and Southern Districts, to be admitted as a member of the court or pro hac vice, counsel must certify that they have read and will abide by these standards. See N.D. Ind. LR 83-5; S.D. Ind. LR 83-5, 83-6. The Northern District’s Local Rules further provide, “Indiana’s Rules of Professional Conduct and the Seventh Circuit Standards of Professional Conduct (an appendix to these rules) govern the conduct of those practicing in the court.” N.D. Ind. LR 83-5(e).

In litigation, the standards have been cited by or within the 7th Circuit on scores of occasions. For instance, Judge John Tinder wrote for the 7th Circuit in one decision, “Failing to cite adverse controlling authority makes an argument frivolous. Not only that, but it is ‘imprudent and unprofessional.’ Thompson v. Duke, 940 F.2d 192, 198 (7th Cir. 1991). We expect more from attorneys who appear before us. See Standards for Professional Conduct Within the Seventh Federal Judicial Circuit, ‘Lawyer’s Duties to the Court.’” Gross v. Town of Cicero, 619 F.3d 697, 703 (7th Cir. 2010).

Locally, an example comes from Oakley v. Remy Int’l, 2011 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 124477 (S.D. Ind. 2011), in which Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson wrote, “As far as motions to reconsider go, this motion was exceptionally aggressive. Given the effort that the Court devotes to pending cases – and this case has been no exception – Remy’s only barely veiled accusations that the Court either recklessly ignored or willfully refused to apply Circuit precedent is, therefore, unfortunate and disappointing. [See, e.g., dkt. 77 at 2 (‘The district court may not ignore or refuse to follow Seventh Circuit precedent.’]”

She continued, “Both bench and bar have reciprocal obligations to address each other with respect. See Standards for Professional Conduct Within the Seventh Federal Judicial Circuit, Lawyers’ Duties to the Court Standard 1 & Courts’ Duties to Lawyers Standard 1. Here, Remy’s counsel fell short of that obligation. The Court trusts that counsel will, in the future, exercise the civility to the bench that counsel has received and will continue to receive from the bench. One can disagree without being disagreeable.”

With the New Year upon us, reviewing these standards is timely and prudent.

Common Interest Privilege – Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch recently addressed the common interest privilege in Ducker v. Amin, 1:12-CV-01596 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 31, 2013). Her opinion contains a thorough discussion of this topic and concludes, “The common interest privilege protects from disclosure only communications between Ms. Ducker and Mr. Worthy that included one or both of their legal counsel, or included only their legal counsel, and which concerned their common interest. It does not protect from disclosure communications between Ms. Ducker and Mr. Worthy without the participation of counsel.”

Save the date – The 2014 annual federal civil practice seminar will return Dec. 19 this year; mark your calendars.•


John Maley – – is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP, practicing federal and state litigation, employment matters, and appeals. He chairs the Local Rules Advisory Committee for the S.D. of Indiana and is a member of the Local Rules Advisory Committee for the N.D. of Indiana. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues