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Projects will expedite transcripts, require appellate e-filing in some courts by Aug. 1

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The conversion of three Indiana courts to video transcripts is one of three pilot projects that will start in selected courts in the next several weeks, all of them intended to find ways to make the appeals process thriftier and more efficient.

A second pilot aims to slash the transcript-filing time from 90 days to 30 days by using private transcription services to assist court reporters, and a third will involve electronic filing – either online or on CDs – of the appellate record.

The court pilot projects are looking at “faster, better, cheaper ways of getting the record done,” said Lilia Judson, executive director of the Division of State Court Administration for the Indiana Supreme Court, which is working with the Court of Appeals to implement the projects.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Margret Robb said that while the pilots are a project of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals will do the heavy lifting.

A panel comprising Judges Cale Bradford, James Kirsch and Melissa May will review all of the cases involving the pilot projects. “Part of that is so there can be a good evaluation of the three projects,” Robb said. “I think this was an attempt to have people who were willing and open-minded with no preconceived idea of what they like and didn’t like, and who could clearly evaluate the pluses and minuses of each,” Robb said.

“The American Bar Association standard and the federal rule both allow 30 days” to file transcripts for appeals, Kirsch said. “Indiana allows 90 days, or three times the standard. In a time of exploding technology, this should be an embarrassment.”

For appeals in which the transcript has been prepared in 30 days, the judges also will track time spent on each step of the appellate process, according to a summary of the project.

Kirsch said Indiana’s steps toward shortening the transcription time are overdue.

“The time period for the preparation of the trial court record and transcript is the longest part of the appellate process and substantially extends the time that litigants must wait for the decisions that will affect their lives,” Kirsch said.

Kofi Anokwa, an Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity fellow interning with Robb, analyzed state laws regarding time allowed for filing transcripts. Indiana is one of just four states allowing 90 days, according to Anokwa’s research. Twice as many states require filing in 30 days or less.
 

smith-maggie-mug Smith

Frost Brown Todd counsel Maggie Smith is past chair of the Appellate Section of the Indiana State Bar Association and also serves on the Indiana Supreme Court Rules Committee. She agreed the pilots were overdue.

“It’s long been the section’s belief that 90 days is excessive and certainly is not needed in today’s age of digital technology,” Smith said.

The reduction in filing time is complicated, though, by technology that is not uniform across Indiana’s decentralized courts, some of which don’t have digital transcription capability, Smith said. The longer time period to file also is influenced by a culture that tends to use all the time available to prepare and submit court documents, even those that could be done in little time.



“The nature of the practice, whether court reporter, clerk or attorney, is to live within the timeframe allotted,” she said. “That’s even more reason to tighten up the transcript preparation. … People take as long as you give them.”

Smith said Indiana ideally could move to a system limited to 30 days for filing appellate transcripts, allowing requests for extensions in cases where more time is warranted, such as lengthy trials or complicated proceedings. “While I think as a practitioner I and my clients would love 30 days, initially, if the technology is improved, we’d be happy if they cut it down to 60 days.”

Bradford said the pilots also acknowledge court personnel have ever-growing duties, and the effort to expedite transcripts will give them the assistance they need to meet the task by hiring one or more private transcription services.

Electronic record filing also would streamline the appellate process, Bradford said.

“We constantly have conversations here on our court about what it would be like to do that,” he said of receiving the appellate record electronically or on a CD. “This will be an opportunity for our judges to do it and see how they like it.”

Smith said Indiana Appellate Rule 30 already allows electronic filing, but “nobody does it.” It’s not a requirement, and all parties must agree to it.

The appellate section of the ISBA has not opposed proposals that would require electronic filings in Indiana appellate courts, she said. Venues such as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals already have such requirements.

The court pilot projects appear to be moving incrementally toward ways of doing business that embrace technology that will become prevalent, if not standard, in the future, Smith said.

“It’s preparing people. Ultimately, you’re going to have electronic filing at every level, I think,” she added.

Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson said the video record, expedited transcripts and e-filing initiatives could have wider impact on Indiana courts in time. He said the pilots as a whole are nothing particularly new or alarming.

“We’ve always been concerned about resolving appeals as quickly as possible. We know that it’s a burden upon litigants to have to wait for decisions, and one of the most time-consuming elements is the time it takes to prepare a record,” Dickson said.


Dickson Dickson

Indiana Supreme Court spokesperson Kathryn Dolan said some logistics of the pilots still are being worked out. Those include which courts will be selected to expedite transcripts and file electronically, and decisions should be made soon. The goal is to get the projects implemented in the courts by Aug. 1.

The courts also will be looking for reaction to the projects.

“We are working on a survey for judges, law clerks, clerk of the court staff, and lawyers who will be involved with the pilot project. We will also solicit input from these individuals independent of the survey,” Dolan said.

“We’re interested to see the results,” Dickson said. “We’re keeping an open mind and hope the leaders working on these various projects will produce some recommendations that will make a difference in our ability to provide swifter and more accurate justice.”•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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