ILNews

Judicial Conference: Southern District needs judge

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A new permanent federal judgeship is needed in Indiana ;s Southern District of the U.S. District Court, according to the Judicial Conference of the United States.

The federal judicial policymaking group voted Tuesday to ask Congress to create 67 new federal judgeships – 15 for the Circuit courts and 52 for the District courts. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago isn ;t being considered for an increase, but a new judicial officer in the Southern District division would add one to the current roster of five – which has been the number since 1978. The Southern District also has eight magistrates. In comparison, the Northern District of Indiana has five judges, three magistrates, and a senior judge.

Congress has increased the number of District Court judges by 4 percent since 1990 but has not increased the number of circuit appellate judges even though case filings have risen about 55 percent in that period.

In other matters

• The conference also endorsed a 6- to 12-month pilot project allowing several courts to make digital audio recordings of courtroom proceedings publicly available online through the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system. They have been available for purchase at clerks ; offices but not online. Locations of the courts haven ;t been established, but the plan says it will likely be up to the discretion of District judges and where judges volunteer to be included.

• Members also urged all federal courts using electronic dockets to end practices of creating "secret" dockets by making cases seemingly vanish online when sealed. Instead, the conference wants courts to clearly indicate when cases are sealed by using computer notices that say "case under seal" rather than "case does not exist."

• The conference also authorized and directed its Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability to recommend guidelines and new rules for implementing the judicial disability statute in a uniform manner throughout the federal system. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis was part of a committee that studied this issue and released a report in September. That report will now be used as guidance for what needs to be done.
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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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