Mandatory pro bono starting in Southern District

July 15, 2016

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has adopted a new local rule which will mandate certain attorneys provide pro bono services to pro se litigants.

In a notice issued Friday, the federal court announced the adoption of Local Rule 87. It will take effect Sept. 1, 2016.

The new rule creates two pools of attorneys. The court will draw from one of the pools an attorney to represent a civil litigant who cannot afford legal assistance.  

Attorneys who offer to provide their services at no charge will be placed in the voluntary panel and will have the opportunity to choose who they want to represent. Attorneys who do not volunteer but have appeared before the court at least 10 times during 2015 in civil cases will go into the obligatory panel and be assigned clients.

The new rule was formulated by a court-appointed committee in response to a series of remands from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Cases were being sent back because the District Court did not recruit counsel to represent the indigent litigants. According to the court, more than half of the district’s civil case load is initiated by pro se individuals, a majority of whom are incarcerated.

The court maintains it will make limited appointments, only pulling attorneys to handle the most critical parts of cases. 


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