Rules amendments making attorney cell numbers public not approved

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The Indiana Supreme Court has approved a series of amendments to multiple state rules, but one that did not make the cut was an amendment that would have required attorneys to include their cellphone numbers on appearance filings.

In March, the Indiana Supreme Court Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure posted 23 proposed rule amendments, including changes to Criminal Rule 2.1 and Trial Rule 3.1 that would have mandated attorney cell numbers on appearance filings. The response to those proposed amendments was overwhelming negative, with attorneys claiming that making their cellphone numbers public would subject them to a deluge of client calls and texts at all hours of the day and night.

Family law attorneys, in particular, were vocal in their opposition to the proposed amendments to the criminal and trial rules, noting the personal and emotional nature of their work can sometimes force them to seek protection against angry clients or opposing parties. Making cell numbers public, the family law practitioners said, could possibly increase the threat against them.

For its part, the court’s Office of Judicial Administration, which proposed the cellphone amendments, said the idea was to use attorney cell numbers to send text message reminders about upcoming court dates. Former court Chief Administrative Officer Mary Willis likened the idea to the text notifications that physicians send to remind their patients of upcoming appointments.

“It’s a common practice used to a successful end to keep people notified,” Willis said in April.

In the end, though, the cellphone amendments to Criminal Rule 2.1 and Trial Rule 3.1 were not part of the series of amendments to state trial, appellate, administrative, evidence, small claims and criminal rules that were approved on Thursday. The court acknowledged attorneys’ negative reaction to the proposals in a Friday tweet.

“Attorneys: thank you. We heard your concerns. The Court did NOT approve the proposed rule requiring attorney cell numbers on the appearance form,” the tweet, which came from the @incourts Twitter account, said.

Criminal Rule 2.1 was amended, but the change made to section (d) only requires that defendants proceeding pro se including their name, address, telephone number and email address on their appearance form. Trial Rule 3.1 was not amended.

Other trial rules were amended, though, including Rules 4, 5, 64, 69 and 86. Among the trial rule changes was an amendment to Rule 64(a), which specifies when a court may issue a writ of attachment, bench warrant or body attachment.

Changes to Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure removed references to “conventionally” and “electronically” filed documents. Instead, the affected rules – 9, 14, 14.1, 16 and 63 – now prescribe timeframes simply to “file” the relevant documents.

Among the other amendments were changes to Administrative Rule(B)(4), Evidence Rule 1101(b) and Small Claims Rules (B)(2).

The amendments to the administrative and evidence rules were effective July 26, while the appellate rule changes will take effect on Sept. 1 and the remaining amendments will take effect on Jan. 1. The full list of amended rules is available here.

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