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Federal Bar Update: Northern, Southern District courts cleaning up local rules

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Federal Bar Update

Local Rule amendments are in the works in the Northern District and Southern District of Indiana, with amendments to take effect Jan. 1. In the Northern District, the court has issued formal notice of its proposed amendments, inviting comments by Nov. 18. The amendments are posted on the website, but include the following of note:

Local Rule 6-1(b) on extensions of time would have no substantive change, but be cleaned up as follows with italics showing additions:

(b) Automatic Initial Extension. The deadline for filing a responsive pleading or a response to a written request for discovery or admissions will automatically be extended upon filing a notice of the extension with the court if: to respond to a pleading or a discovery request – including requests for admission – is automatically extended when an extension notice is filed with the court and:

(1) the deadline has not been extended before;

(2) the extension is for 28 or fewer days; and

(3) the party has diligently attempted to contact opposing attorneys to get their agreement to the extension;

(4) all opposing attorneys the party could reach have agreed to the extension; and

(5) the notice states:

(A) the original deadline and the requested deadline;

(B) the new deadline; that all opposing attorneys the party could reach have

agreed to the extension;
and

(C) that all opposing attorneys the attorney could reach agreed to the extension; or that the party could not reach any other opposing attorneys despite due diligence.

The amendment would also add subsection (c) to clarify no application to pro se parties, reading, (c) Pro Se Parties. The automatic initial extension does not apply to pro se parties.

In the Southern District, a similar cleanup to its Local Rule 6-1(b), along with several other modest Local Rule amendments, will be considered by the court and released for public comment.

Separately, the Northern District has posted for public comment a new set of Local Patent Rules. Although there are only six such rules proposed, they are lengthy and significant. Any patent litigators should review them and offer comments.

New magistrate judge

The Northern District of Indiana recently announced its selection of John Martin to succeed Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich in the Hammond Division effective March 1 after Judge Rodovich’s retirement. Martin is a graduate of the Valparaiso University School of Law and currently serves as deputy federal community defender in Hammond. He previously served as an associate with Salberg & Weiss, representing civil litigants. In 1988, he became a deputy prosecuting attorney with the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office. In 1990, Martin became an associate with the Law Offices of James V. Tsoutsouris & Bertig. During his years with Tsoutsouris & Bertig, he was appointed a part-time deputy public defender in the Porter Superior Court. While with the Porter County Public Defender’s Office, Martin served as the chief appellate public defender.

Interesting opinion on ‘expert witnesses’

In Goesel v. Boley Int’l Ltd., 2012 WL 5269234 (N.D. Ill Oct. 24. 2012), Judge Milton I. Shadur addressed various motions in limine, which are not noteworthy. What caught this author’s eye, however, was Judge Shadur’s description of “opinion witnesses” with a footnote to a five-paragraph appendix in which he explains that he “does not permit the label ‘expert witness’ to be used in its trials, nor does that label appear in its opinions. That stance is not a mere idiosyncrasy, and this Appendix . . . explains why.” (emphasis in original). Judge Shadur then describes his work as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence where this issue was discussed, and he also notes that in the 7th Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions, there is no use of the term “expert.”

Judge Shadur’s approach is novel and interesting. For practitioners seeking to keep an opposing party’s expert from being described as such in trial, a source for consideration.

Save the date

The annual Federal Civil Practice 3-hour CLE seminar will be Thursday, Dec. 20, from 1:30 – 4:45 p.m. in Indianapolis, with federal judges from the S.D. of Indiana as panelists. Register online through Indiana Lawyer at http://www.theindianalawyer.com/events.

__________

John Maley – jmaley@btlaw.com – is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP, practicing federal and state litigation, employment matters, and appeals. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
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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.

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