Amended rules address technological competence, judicial disqualification waiver

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The Indiana Supreme Court has announced amendments to various court rules, including adding language about technological competence and new guidance on judge disqualification procedures.

An amendment to Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 specifically requires attorneys to “keep abreast of” the technological advances in the practice of law, specifically the “benefits and risks associated with the technology relevant to the lawyer’s practice.” Similarly, Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 2.5 has been amended with identical language for judges.

Additionally, under an amendment to Judicial Conduct Rule 2.11, litigants and their lawyers can agree to allow a judge to waive an otherwise required disqualification and instead allow the judge to participate in the court proceeding. The only exception to this amendment is if a judge must be disqualified due to bias, prejudice or conflict of interest.

However, the amendment to Rule 2.11 also calls for judges to disqualify themselves, even over the agreement of the parties, “when reasonable minds with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry would conclude that the judge’s integrity, impartiality, or independence to serve as a judge is impaired.” Further, “a judge should be especially cautious of accepting a waiver from a self-represented litigant when the opposing party is represented by counsel,” according to the amendment.

Finally, the high court made amendments to two Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure. First, an amendment to Trial Rule 4.1(B) now requires a copy of the summons and complaint in a case to be mailed to the last known address of the person being served if copies of those documents were left at the person’s home or with their agent.

Secondly, the amendment to Rule 69(A) requires the sale of real estate to be conducted under the same rules and procedures applicable to foreclosure of mortgages without right of redemption after the sale. Previously, an exemption to that rule was provided for requirements of appraisal and that the property sells for two-thirds or more of its appraised values.

All rules amendments will take place on Jan. 1, 2018, except for the disqualification amendments to Rule 2.11, which took effect July 31.

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