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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.