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Federal Circuit converges on Indianapolis

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has kept up with a trend of publishing more written opinions than any other federal court, and one of the most significant happenings in the past year is the recent resurrection of inviting lower trial judges to sit by designation on appeals panels.

Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook offered those two points to hundreds of his colleagues within the federal legal community who are gathered in Indianapolis for the annual meeting of the 7th Circuit Bar Association and Judicial Conference. The two-day event rotates locations each year and comes to Indiana once every four years.

The business portions are today and Tuesday at the Westin Hotel, with panel discussions focusing on legal writing, caselaw about non-scientific evidence, attorney-client privilege in government investigations, e-communication security and privacy, civil discovery, victims' rights, patent litigation, and a look at the Midwest economy.

During his annual State of the Circuit address at a luncheon this afternoon, Chief Judge Easterbrook highlighted his decision in January to start inviting District judges to sit by designation at the 7th Circuit - a policy that hasn't been used for about 15 years. He plans to start inviting more judges later this year.

Overall, caseloads in the Circuit remain steady and saw an 8 percent increase last year, the chief judge said. The 7th Circuit continues standing out in that it publishes written opinions in 51 percent of its decisions, compared to 19 percent nationally - 693 were published last year, he said.

This coming year could present challenges in that the entire Western District of Wisconsin will see a complete turnover of judges, and the Southern District of Indiana may have two vacancies to fill simultaneously - that of Judge David F. Hamilton who's been nominated for the 7th Circuit, and Judge Larry McKinney who takes senior status in July.

Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard spoke briefly about how state courts continue working with the federal system to improve the nation's courts from within, and also about his work on a panel analyzing the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Justice John Paul Stevens, the Circuit's representative for the U.S. Supreme Court, is a keynote speaker at a dinner reception this evening. Rev. David Link, former dean of Notre Dame Law School for 24 years, is receiving the American Inns of Court's 2009 Professionalism Award for the Seventh Circuit, which is given to a senior judge or lawyer whose life and practice displays "sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession."

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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