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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 – jmaley@btlaw.com – 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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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