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. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  4. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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