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Registration goes online

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Entering the 21st century is no longer optional for Indiana lawyers. When it comes to attorney registration, paper forms are history to make way for a new web portal.

The Indiana Appellate Clerk’s Office unveiled a new site Aug. 1 that overhauls the way lawyers and judges pay their annual registration fee, manage trust accounts, designate surrogate attorneys, and update contact information. The new paperless system is the first step in a planned three-phase initiative. The change, which impacts every licensed lawyer in the state, will ultimately allow attorneys to pay for continuing legal education online. The new system will ease the legal community’s ability to navigate the Roll of Attorneys process and save the state judiciary time and money.

portal Indiana Roll of Attorney administrator Darla Little and Appellate IT Director Robert Rath show off a new web portal unveiled Aug. 1, allowing attorneys to pay their annual registration fee and update contact information online. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The court estimates that within two years, offerings will also include a revamped online docket that allows hyperlinks for certain court records and a free subscription tool to follow appeals based on judge, county, attorney, or even case type.

“This gives attorneys a much easer way both to do their annual registrations and certifications and to keep their Roll of Attorney contact information current throughout the year,” Appellate Clerk Kevin Smith said. “This impacts every attorney in the state, and I know from a clerk’s office perspective it will allow us to be much more efficient and make much better use of our limited resources.”

Until now, a pre-printed annual registration statement form was mailed to the 20,706 active and inactive attorneys inside and outside of Indiana, in accordance with Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 2(g). The court rule requires the appellate clerk to send that notice Aug. 1 alerting attorneys about their upcoming dues deadline in two months, and anything more would be a courtesy. A graduated fine schedule begins if dues aren’t paid within 15 days, and a final notice about the non-compliance is sent at year’s end. Smith said the following spring, the clerk’s office notifies attorneys who haven’t paid their dues or completed annual CLE credits that they face license suspension if those obligations aren’t met, and the next notice an attorney would receive is from the Supreme Court ordering discipline for not paying dues or having the required CLE.

With this new portal, statements will no longer be mailed. This is the final year that will occur, according to Smith. Payments will only be accepted by credit card or e-check online. Cash or paper checks will no longer be accepted.

Coincidentally, attorneys’ annual registration fees are rising by $15 this year after the Indiana Supreme Court ordered that increase July 28. They are rising from $130 to $145, and there are corresponding changes in that amount to delinquency fees if the fees aren’t paid on time. The annual Continuing Legal Education fee will also rise from $30 to $45.

The order signed by Acting Chief Justice Steven H. David had concurrences from three of his colleagues on the bench, except for Justice Robert Rucker, who dissented to the registration fee increase.

Indiana has been tied with Maryland as being the least-expensive states in the country for annual registration fees, even after the 2010 increase that upped the amount from $115 to $130. Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said this hike is not connected to the new online attorney registration portal and is coincidental. Annual fees pay for specific items such as CLE, Disciplinary Commission, and Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program services while the new registration docket is paid for through the court budget.

The new portal has been in development for the past year, but the concept has been years in the making, according to appellate IT chief Robert Rath who took that newly created position in 2009 and started exploring what ways the state’s court system and appellate clerk’s office could go paperless. They specifically began working on this paperless Roll of Attorneys a year ago, Rath said.

Attorneys will initially need to set up an individual account through the new portal at the clerk of courts website http://courts.IN.gov/cofc/. From there, they can navigate the prompts.

Starting Sept. 1, a delegation option will be available at the online portal allowing lawyers to designate administrative assistants, paralegals, bookkeepers, or others to access and change the information and make annual fee payments. This might be especially beneficial for large law firms, Smith said, where one person is often given that task on behalf of practicing attorneys in the firm.

Notifications will appear on the online portal alerting an attorney if he hasn’t paid his dues, and the system will also be able to send an email a few days before Oct. 1 as a reminder, Smith said. Specific figures aren’t kept on the number of attorneys who don’t pay by Oct. 1, but Smith estimated about 10 to 15 percent receive those letters following the first deadline.

“The hope is that it will result in attorneys being able to go online at any time to do this and they won’t wait or forget as might happen if they had to mail something in to us,” he said.

All future annual notices will be sent to the email address provided for the Roll of Attorneys, and the clerk’s office says attorneys should make sure spam filters are set to allow for any emails with the domain @courts.IN.gov.

Smith said this would save the state courts money far beyond the $11,180 spent annually on mailing and printing costs. Staff time that would otherwise be devoted to mailing and receiving forms, reviewing documents, inserting that information into the system, and specific contact with lawyers because of that paper-based method will be reduced.

The new portal will likely lead to much more efficiency in the appellate clerk’s office, and updates will be instantaneous rather than having to wait for someone to update that information by hand, Smith said.

This change comes at a time when many states are moving to a paperless system for discovery, filing, or both. All federal courts require e-filing and have a comprehensive pay-for docket system online, and more than half the states have made initial progress toward enabling those similar options for the practicing bar and general public.

Indiana hasn’t made the move to e-filing at this point, nearly four years after the Indiana Supreme Court withdrew an amendment it had made in September 2007 requiring all appellate briefs and court documents to be filed electronically starting January 2008. But within a month of making that change, the justices issued a second order striking the change to Appellate Rule 43(K) and saying it had been “inadvertently included” in the earlier order.

Nothing has happened on that appellate e-filing topic since then, even though Rath came on board about two years ago to focus on that and related IT issues.

But by the middle of 2012, Rath says the state will strengthen the online docket to include hyperlinks for appellate decisions and certain court records, such as attorney disciplinary decisions or case-specific orders and special judge assignments. The clerk’s office won’t be able to include that access retroactively.

Eventually, the vision is for attorneys and appellate judges to be able to read all case documents on a laptop in court rather than having to flip through pages of paper, and that Indiana’s appellate courts will have a way to tie into the statewide Odyssey system.

The Indiana General Assembly didn’t provide any additional funding during the 2011 budget session for an Appellate Case Management System – a project that Rath has been exploring since he took the job – but this new three-phase online upgrade for the clerk’s office is putting some of those smaller pieces in place.

Many Indiana attorneys welcome this new online access for registration and lawyer-specific information and are looking forward to the grander e-system implementation.

Indianapolis attorney Brian Paul with Ice Miller, who’s served on an appellate court e-filing committee, says the entire legal community should welcome e-filing because it will make the system more efficient and save judges and lawyers time, as well as save litigants money.

“It’s important that non-lawyers have ready, inexpensive access to court documents; they deserve to know how their courts are being used and operated,” he said. “The fact is the switch to electronic filing and docketing is inevitable.  We might as well embrace the technology now.”•
 

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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