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Will SCOTUS weigh in on canons?

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

The Supreme Court of the United States could soon decide if it will take on cases that question Indiana’s judicial canons and whether those types of rules infringe on the free speech rights of seated jurists or those vying for the bench.

On Jan. 14, the Indiana attorney general’s office filed a brief with the high court in Torrey Bauer, David Certo, and Indiana Right to Life v. Randall T. Shepard, et al., No. 09-2963, urging the justices not to hear the case. That request came about four months after Terre Haute attorney James Bopp asked the court to grant certiorari in a case that centers on judicial candidates’ concerns about how state canons restrict their answering of survey questions.

U.S. Judge Theresa Springmann dismissed the case and upheld the canons, and the 7th Circuit last summer ruled that the state judicial canons aren’t unconstitutionally restrictive of free speech and should stand.

A three-judge appellate panel relied on a related ruling from June in The Hon. John Siefert v. James C. Alexander, et al., No. 09-1713, in upholding the Indiana canons, and the full Circuit declined to revisit that ruling despite some disagreement among the judges. Bopp appealed to the SCOTUS in September and the state waived its right to respond, but the high court in November asked the state AG to respond to the certiorari petition.

The AG’s brief argues that Bopp “may hope to use this case to deregulate judicial election campaigns, but the decision below written by Chief Judge Easterbrook provides little reason for the Court to become involved. The Seventh Circuit, examining common, time-tested restrictions on judicial speech, reached the same unremarkable First Amendment conclusions as nearly all courts.”

The state contends that abstract tension among lower courts about proper legal standards do not justify review, and that when no District or Circuit court conflict exists under precedent, the SCOTUS shouldn’t interfere.

A docket entry shows that justices plan to discuss the case during a private conference Feb. 18, but that isn’t guaranteed and no timeline exists for when a decision must be made. Bopp has also filed a certiorari petition in the Siefert case, and the docket shows that case is scheduled for discussion the same day as Bauer.

Rehearing "7th Circuit upholds Indiana's judicial cannons" IL Sept. 1-14, 2010

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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.

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