Memorable moments from the 7th Circuit Bar Association and Judicial Conference of the 7th Circuit

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Pro bono honorees

Three Indiana attorneys were recognized for their contributions to the practice of law during the annual dinner of the 7th Circuit Bar Association and the Judicial Conference of the 7th Circuit.

Sharon Barner, vice president and general counsel of Cummins Inc., received the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the 7th Circuit. This award is given to a lawyer or judge whose life and practice exemplifies personal integrity coupled with a dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and rule of law.

IL_Richard_Lugar01-15col.jpg Former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, left, and 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Tinder converse during the 7th Circuit Bar and Judicial Conference on May 6 in Indianapolis. Tinder was in high school the last time he had the opportunity to introduce Lugar, who at that time was working on becoming mayor of Indianapolis. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Judge James Holderman, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, presented Barner with the award.

Also, the 7th Circuit Bar Association Pro Bono & Public Service Committee recognized two Hoosier attorneys for their contributions to the pro bono arena.

Mark Stuaan, partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Indianapolis, received the Justice John Paul Stevens Pro Bono & Public Service Award for his outstanding pro bono work in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Alan L. McLaughlin, office managing shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C. in Indianapolis, received the Pro Bono & Public Service Award for his outstanding pro bono work in the U.S. District courts of Indiana.

School days

Circuit Judge John Tinder had the privilege of introducing former Sen. Richard Lugar. Tinder told the 7th Circuit Bar conference that Lugar was known as “a champion of the rule of law throughout the world and a great friend to the federal judiciary.”

But before he became all that, Lugar was a guest speaker at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, and Tinder recalled the occasion when he’d last introduced Lugar, presenting him to his classmates back in 1967. Upon taking the lectern, Lugar joked that Tinder had made more of himself than Lugar imagined he might.

Lugar recalled that during his successful campaign for mayor of Indianapolis in the years that followed, Tinder was helpful, even posting numerous “Lugar for mayor” signs on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington. Lugar mused that the number of Bloomington voters in the Indianapolis mayoral election wasn’t known, but that the effort was surely helpful.

Less here, more there

New filings in District courts of the 7th Circuit edged up last year, increasing 1.7 percent across the seven districts in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. But the caseloads varied widely in the different jurisdictions. In the Northern Indiana District, for instance, cases rose 30 percent, while they declined 33 percent in the Southern Illinois District

Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook provided the analysis during his State of the Circuit address. While cases overall are up, bankruptcy filings are down an average of 6.5 percent in District courts across the 7th Circuit, Easterbrook said.

Confirming less drama

The highly charged political atmosphere surrounding federal court nominees seems like part of the Washington landscape. Lugar said it wasn’t always so.

Sharing an anecdote from early in his 36-year Senate career, Lugar recalled a federal judicial nominee was confirmed after a two-question Judiciary Committee hearing.

Lugar remembered the second question and final inquiry of the nominee from the committee chairman at the time: “Dick Lugar said you would be a good judge. Will you be a good judge?”

Returning in 2017

Indianapolis will next host the 7th Circuit Bar and Judicial Conference in 2017. The event will be in Chicago next year, Milwaukee in 2015, and Chicago in 2016. Organizers said an estimated 650 people attended the Indianapolis conference.•

– Marilyn Odendahl and Dave Stafford


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.