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Federal Bar Update: ND requires e-filing; SD launches hyperlink pilot

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FedBarMaley-sigEffective Feb. 24, all new complaints and removals in the Northern District of Indiana must be e-filed. The court has a lengthy manual on this process on its website, along with training modules. The clerk’s office has a help desk in each division available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Counsel should work through the kinks of this process well before the deadline for filing.

In the Southern District of Indiana, new complaints and removals may be filed electronically, but can still optionally be paper-filed.

Hyperlinks in briefs – In the Southern District of Indiana, a new pilot program is underway for including hyperlinks in briefs. Hyperlinks will allow the reader (the court, counsel, etc.) immediate access to the referenced materials, such as CM/ECF filings, case and statute citations, attachments, and exhibits. This is an emerging trend in federal courts and might become mandatory in courts in the future.

The court’s notice provides: “During the initial phase of the pilot program, the Court will be issuing a limited number of entries and orders containing hyperlinks. The hyperlinks may be page-specific. For instance, an order may contain a hyperlink to a specific page of a specific affidavit – accessible with one click. Access to Court-issued documents will continue to be available via the Notice of Electronic Filing (‘NEF’) email system. NOTE: Even though attorneys can utilize the one ‘free look’ to the e-filed documents associated with the NEF – accessing other CM/ECF hyperlinked documents contained within the main document will be subject to normal PACER fees, and any hyperlinks to Westlaw or LexisNexis citations will require attorneys to login to those services.

The next, and most important, phase of the pilot program will involve a small group of attorneys e-filing documents with hyperlinks. When utilized by attorneys, hyperlinks in briefs and other court filings will provide quick, easy, and pinpoint access to particular sections of a case, or to specific filings in the court’s record, adding another level of persuasion to their writing. Hyperlinking will also be a great benefit to the Court, allowing Judges to quickly and easily review case-supporting materials.

Once this pilot program has been tested and meets the Court’s expectations, detailed information will be available for all attorneys to use in future filings.”

Finality not impacted by fee petition – The Supreme Court recently resolved a split in the Circuits on finality when a non-statutory fee petition is filed. Long ago the court held in Budinich v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 486 U. S. 196 (1988), that statutory fee claims do not affect finality. In a January decision, Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund, No. 12-992, the court held that the filing of any type of fee petition does not affect finality. Thus, the appeal clock is running regardless of a fee petition.

The court’s opening paragraph succinctly summarizes this important holding and the court’s reasoning:

“Federal courts of appeals have jurisdiction of appeals from ‘final decisions’ of United States district courts. 28 U. S. C. § 1291. In Budinich v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 486 U. S. 196 (1988), this Court held that a decision on the merits is a ‘final decision under §1291 even if the award or amount of attorney’s fees for the litigation remains to be determined.’ The issue in this case is whether a different result obtains if the unresolved claim for attorney’s fees is based on a contract rather than, or in addition to, a statute. The answer here, for purposes of §1291 and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, is that the result is not different. Whether the claim for attorney’s fees is based on a statute, a contract, or both, the pendency of a ruling on an award for fees and costs does not prevent, as a general rule, the merits judgment from becoming final for purposes of appeal.”

Save the date – The 2014 annual Federal Civil Practice Seminar will return Dec. 19 this year; mark your calendars.•

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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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