Southern District to block e-filing by lawyers not in good standing

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Lawyers not in good standing with the federal bar for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana will be blocked from electronic filing under rule changes taking effect July 1. A separate new rule aims to protect cooperating defendants who plead guilty.

An amendment to Local Rule 5-3 adds a Section (f) that says only members of the bar in good standing may use the Electronic Case Files system. “Upon receipt of a court order subjecting an attorney to suspension or disbarment, or notice that the attorney’s license to practice law is inactive, the clerk will suspend the attorney’s ECF rights, pending the attorney’s reinstatement to active, good standing status,” the new rule reads.
An added Section (g) under this rule also restricts unrepresented litigants from e-filing unless authorized by court order.  

The rule amendments also add new procedures for filing information under seal with a cooperating defendant’s petition to plead guilty in a criminal case. In such cases, counsel for the defendant must file under seal a motion to exclude cooperator information which specifically references the presentence investigation report. The new rule is added as Section (b) under Local Criminal Rule 13-1.

In a footnote to the criminal rule amendments, the court observes they are “in part, based on the actions of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is examining means to control the use of court documents to identify, threaten, and harm cooperators.”

“If the defendant is potentially eligible for relief from a mandatory minimum sentence, by way of the ‘Safety Valve’ provision of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) (United States Sentencing Guidelines ("U.S.S.G.) § 5C1.2(a)(1)-(5)), counsel may also request, in the same motion, that narrative concerning the Defendant's qualification for the Safety Valve reduction be excluded from the PSR, and request that only a reference to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(17) be made (in order to accurately calculate the sentencing guideline range). … In the event of a guilty verdict, defense counsel will have 14 days within which to file the Motion to Exclude Cooperator Information, and Safety Valve narrative, from the presentence report,” the new section reads.

“If a motion to exclude cooperation information is granted, information regarding cooperation will be kept confidential and excluded from the presentence report,” an amendment to Local Criminal Rule 13-1(d) reads.


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