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Federal Bar Update: Southern District amends civil and criminal rules

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Federal Bar UpdateEffective Jan. 1, the Southern District of Indiana amended three local rules affecting civil practice, plus Local Criminal Rule 13.1 affecting criminal practice and sentencing (see the court’s website for the text of all rule changes).

On the civil front, Local Rule 23.1 relating to class actions was amended. Under the prior version of Local Rule 23.1(b), within 90 days of filing of the complaint in a class action, absent an extension for good cause the plaintiff was to file a separate motion for class certification. That provision was deleted entirely in the Jan. 1 amendment.

As explained by the notes to the amendment: “Subsection (b) amended January 1, 2011 to remove requirement that a separate motion seeking class certification must be filed within the 90 days of filing of a complaint in a class action, leaving the timing of such a motion to be determined within the Case Management Plan for each case.”

Separately, Local Rule 37.1 addressing resolution of discovery disputes before court intervention was redrafted with Local Rule 37.3 deleted. The new Local Rule 37.1 provides:

(a) Prior to involving the court in any discovery dispute, including disputes involving depositions, counsel must confer in a good faith attempt to resolve the dispute. If any such dispute cannot be resolved in this manner, counsel are encouraged to contact the chambers of the assigned magistrate judge to determine whether the magistrate judge is available to resolve the discovery dispute by way of a telephone conference or other proceeding prior to counsel filing a formal discovery motion. When the dispute involves an objection raised during a deposition that threatens to prevent completion of the deposition, any party may recess the deposition to contact the magistrate judge’s chambers.

(b) In the event that the discovery dispute is not resolved at the conference, counsel may file a motion to compel or other motion raising the dispute. Any motion raising a discovery dispute must contain a statement setting forth the efforts taken to resolve the dispute, including the date, time, and place of any discovery conference and the names of all participating parties. The court may deny any motion raising a discovery dispute that does not contain such a statement.

(c) Discovery disputes involving pro se parties are not subject to Local Rule 37.1.

The notes to the new Local Rule 37.1 indicate that “most” discovery disputes can be resolved or narrowed with good faith efforts of counsel and intervention of the magistrate judge without briefing. Also, the notes indicate that the prior requirement of a “separate statement” reciting the good faith efforts to resolve the dispute is no longer required; instead the motion itself must contain a recitation of those efforts.

Finally, Local Rule 83.7 is amended to require that upon withdrawal of an attorney’s appearance, the petition “must also include the client’s contact information, including a current address and telephone number.”•
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John Maley – jmaley@btlaw.com – is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg practicing federal and state litigation, employment matters, and appeals. Any opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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