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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. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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