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IndyBar Board Approves Rule Change Proposal

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The Indianapolis Bar Association Board of Directors approved a proposed rule amendment generated by the bar’s Appellate Practice Section at its Dec. 4 meeting. The rule amendment, which has since been submitted to the Rules Committee of the Indiana Supreme Court, amends Rule 65 of the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure, shortening the deadline to file a motion to publish in the Court of Appeals to 15 days and permitting the citation of Not-for-Publication (NFP) opinions as persuasive precedent. The proposal specifies that only NFP opinions issued after Jan. 1, 2015 be permitted to be cited.

The proposal originated in the Appellate Practice section but was also approved by the executive committees of the Criminal Justice Section and the Litigation Section earlier in 2013. The section members of all three sections were also surveyed to gauge opinions on possible changes, with 79 percent of respondents in favor of an amendment to the rule.

The documentation provided to the Rules Committee details the anticipated impact of the proposed amendment:

Deadlines for Motions to Publish Under Appellate Rule 65(B): Shortening the deadline to file a motion to publish from 30 to 15 days would codify the unwritten policy and preference of many judges on the Court of Appeals. Because a petition to transfer must be filed within 30 days of the issuance of an NFP Court of Appeals’ opinion, a shorter deadline will provide notice to all parties that an NFP decision may be published, which may affect some parties’ decision whether to seek transfer.

Allowing Citation of NFP Decisions: Rule 65(D) presently prohibits citations of or reliance on NFP opinions except for the very narrow purposes of establishing res judicata, collateral estoppel or law of the case. Thus, in trial courts across the state and on appeal, lawyers who find a NFP opinion with similar facts or helpful reasoning may not cite the opinion, even though they are permitted to cite any case decided by a court in another jurisdiction. The proposed rule would remedy this anomaly by permitting citation of NFP Indiana opinions as persuasive precedent while making clear that no party is under an obligation to cite any NFP opinion. The very modest change is warranted by modern technology and enjoys strong support of a broad section of the bar.

The proposed rule would maintain two classes of opinions. Published opinions would remain precedential and important to find and follow. NFP opinions would remain less significant—but would assume some significance. In cases where the published authority does not provide a complete answer, lawyers would be permitted to rely on NFP opinions as persuasive authority only.

This approach would be consistent with federal practice and the practice in a growing number of states. More importantly, it would allow counsel another way to advance and support their arguments, which is especially important in some areas of civil law in which there are relatively few published Indiana cases. Finally, by permitting citation to only NFP opinions issued after Jan. 1, 2015, the proposed rule will alleviate the burden on counsel to search through older NFP opinions.

To view additional information about the proposed rule amendment, visit indybar.org.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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