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High-profile federal trials slated for early 2009

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The first half of the year is shaping up to be a time of high-profile trials for Indiana's federal courts.

The U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana's first-ever federal death-penalty trial is slated for March. In May, a major energy company is expected to go through its second liability trial on clean-air violations while a former mayor is set to be tried on civil racketeering charges.

A capital trial is set to begin March 30 before Judge Richard Young in Evansville in the case of U.S.A. v. Jarvis Brown, No. 3:06-cr-00014. Brown faces execution for being part of a drug-trafficking conspiracy that resulted in four murders and eight people being shot in Indianapolis and Evansville several years ago.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney in Indianapolis set May 11 to begin the nine-day trial in U.S.A., et al. v. Cinergy Corp., et al., No. 1:99-cv-1693, which would be the second trial within a year. In December, Judge McKinney determined that the original two-week liability trial in May 2008 - the nation's first to go before a jury on the issue of whether slight modifications at coal-fired power plants triggered the need for new pollution control equipment - was tainted because of potential attorney and witness misconduct. The judge ultimately opted not to sanction the lawyers involved, but he upheld his decision to set aside the original jury verdict finding that Cinergy had violated the U.S. Clean Air Act at its Wabash plant in Terre Haute but not at four other plants.

A first remedy trial happened earlier this month, but the discovery and remaining remedy aspects are stayed until after the second trial is complete.

That comes just two weeks before State v. Pastrick, et al., No. 3:04-cv-00506, is set to begin in the Northern District of Indiana. Former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick and top mayoral aides James Fife and Timothy Raykovich face federal racketeering charges in that case. They are the only remaining defendants from an original 26 named in the case accusing high-ranking city officials of illegally using public money to pave sidewalks and other work in order to influence votes during the 1999 Democratic primary election. Senior Judge James Moody in Hammond on Friday set May 26 to begin the trial, which was postponed from January.

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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.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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