A bug in the system

June 17, 2009
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Update 6/19/09:

According to appellate courts’ clerk Kevin S. Smith, there was no bug in the system that caused several disciplinary actions to not be posted between May 9 and June 12. A misunderstanding and human error caused the delay in the postings, Smith wrote in an e-mail to Indiana Lawyer.

The misunderstanding has been corrected.

Smith also noted that the court will not post special judge, senior judge, or hearing officer appointment orders. The court doesn’t want to overload its Web site with relatively minor administrative orders that tend to only be of interest to the parties involved, he wrote.

Every day we check the Indiana Court’s Web site for disciplinary actions and other orders, and every day since May 7, we haven’t seen a new one. That seemed odd, so today we made a few phone calls to find out whether all Indiana attorneys were model citizens or if there was a technical problem keeping the actions from being posted.

Turns out, the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee wasn’t getting any word from the clerk’s office about new disciplinary actions, so it hadn’t posted any new ones. The reason: JTAC had a bug in its system following an update in early May. Between the clerk’s office quest to be as paperless as possible and requirements from West Law, somehow a quirk developed in the system. Because of the bug, e-mails weren’t getting to the right people to post the disciplinary actions.

Thanks to our curiosity and nagging suspicion there had to be attorneys in trouble, JTAC discovered the issue this morning and quickly resolved it. The Supreme Court orders site now has actions posted that were dated after May 7. I’m surprised that this wasn’t brought to someone’s attention prior to our calls.

While I’d like to think our attorneys weren’t out there breaking the rules of conduct, or laws, history shows otherwise. In fact, I knew of two attorneys recently who were sentenced by the courts: one for child solicitation, and another on a drunken driving conviction, which would lead to a disciplinary action.

We’re glad that JTAC fixed the problem and that now we (hopefully) are up to date on our disciplinary actions.
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  • Could you follow up with your contacts to see if a similar problem exists on the page that lists the appointments of hearing officers in attorney discipline cases? It showed a lot of activity in January and March, but hasn\'t been updated since March 25. Here is the link:

    http://www.in.gov/judiciary/orders/hearing-officers/index.html
  • John - it\'s quite possible. I\'m looking into it and will report back.

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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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