Interim meetings antiquated

September 10, 2008
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Now is the time of the year when the General Assembly’s interim study committees meet to discuss various issues that could become bills in the 2009 session. What strikes me about these meetings is how old-fashioned and time-consuming they are. If you haven’t sat in on an interim study committee meeting or happened to watch it streamed live online, these meetings can be long.

Try about four hours long. That’s how long yesterday’s interim study committee on immigration issues lasted.

These study committees are designed to get information from experts or people who may have knowledge or be affected by a particular topic, such as immigration, education, or transportation. But in today’s digital world, is it necessary to have four law professors testify about immigration? Much of the information the law professors provided yesterday could have been found by doing some research by making phone calls or turning to the Internet. The lawmakers repeatedly asked for data about immigration from everyone who testified. Couldn’t this data been obtained prior to the meeting, and then the lawmakers could ask questions regarding specific data?

I’m not sure why these meetings have to last so long – perhaps it’s because this is the way it has always been done in the General Assembly. Perhaps it’s so everything from these meetings is “on the record,” even redundant information. These types of long meetings with multiple sources for the same information or viewpoints made sense 100, 50, or even 25 years ago, before the advent of the Internet, telephone, telecommuting, and easier access to information was available to lawmakers.

Nowadays, the length of these meetings could be cut drastically if lawmakers would just do a little research beforehand and utilize technology more. To me, that is a way to make government more efficient. Give lawmakers more time to discuss the issues among themselves instead of asking the same question of four people who will give similar answers.
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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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