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. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.