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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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