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Circuit judge relocating chambers to Maurer School of Law

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In a rare move that may be used in only one other jurisdiction nationally, Judge David F. Hamilton on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago plans to relocate his chambers from the Indianapolis courthouse where he’s from to the Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington.

Since taking the appellate bench in November, Judge Hamilton has kept his chambers in the Southern District of Indiana. But space has become tight in the federal courthouse in Indianapolis and forced Judge Hamilton to reconsider his chambers there.

In an announcement today, the law school and Judge Hamilton said the arrangement is expected to give law students first-hand exposure to the judicial system and be a learning opportunity in both directions.

“It is unusual, and a little complicated as a result,” Judge Hamilton said. “This building is getting crowded enough and it became clear that I’d have to move out of this courthouse, at least. In theory, I could have disrupted and displaced others in this building. But that’s disruptive and unnecessary, and not in the best interest for the District Court, so we were looking at other options.”

Judge Hamilton travels to Chicago about twice a month, usually for three days a time, but lives closer to Bloomington where the law school is located, he said. Federal court policy dictated that he consider courthouse space first if it was available, but this became a possibility because of Judge Hamilton’s and his wife’s roots.

An emeritus member of the Board of Visitors who’s taught a federal court clinic and also served on the school’s Center for Constitutional Democracy, Judge Hamilton credits the idea to his wife, Inge Van der Cruysse, who’s a graduate and former development officer at IU Maurer School of Law. She first mentioned it last year, and the judge began exploring it with his longtime friend Dean Lauren Robel, who he’d clerked with at the 7th Circuit in the early 1980s.

Both the federal government and law school have been working out the logistical and operational details, he said. Judge Hamilton expects the move will be complete by the end of 2010, and he’s working with the law school to explore ways that everyone can most benefit from his experience and judicial work.

“People who say this job is isolating are absolutely right,” Judge Hamilton said. “So I’m looking forward to having a law school office, where I can be some sort of member of the law school community.”

The experience will also be beneficial for his law clerks, who will have the chance to attend law school lectures and events and be able to participate there – particularly for those clerks who’ve graduated from the law school or undergraduate programs, he said.

IU Maurer School of Law officials couldn’t immediately verify how rare this type of arrangement is, but it appears to only be used in one other Circuit jurisdiction throughout the country: the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, where two appellate judges relocated their chambers to space at Yale Law School. Those two are Judges Ralph Winter and Guido Calabresi, both now serving in senior capacities.
 

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