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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  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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