The heavy artillery is being brought out for the yearly gathering of the judges and lawyers who work in the federal courts in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Programs on a wide variety of legal topics are being offered during the joint annual meeting of the 7th Circuit Judicial Conference and the 7th Circuit Bar Association, according to Chicago attorney J. Andrew Langan of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
In an interview last week, Langan said the programs will touch on matters of interest to practitioners in both the civil and criminal fields.
And Langan, the bar association's president, said well-respected experts from around the country were to serve as panelists or speakers in those programs.
"We're extremely pleased the meeting has attracted that kind of firepower," he said.
The meeting began Sunday with a reception at the Adler Planetarium.
Langan and Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were to welcome members of the bench and bar at the opening session Monday morning.
Following the opening session, Judge William J. Bauer of the 7th Circuit was to moderate a panel discussion titled "A Constructive Dialogue Between District Courts and the Court of Appeals."
Other 7th Circuit judges who were to participate in the panel discussion were Michael S. Kanne, Diane S. Sykes and John Daniel Tinder.
U.S. District Court judges slated to serve on the panel included Chief Judges Barbara B. Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin, Michael Patrick McCuskey of the Central District of Illinois and Robert L. Miller Jr. of the Northern District of Indiana.
"This is a good opportunity for a free exchange of ideas about how the courts can work better together, outside the normal constraints of deciding a case," Langan said.
The discussion was to be followed by two programs held at the same time, one on the implementation of new electronic discovery rules and the other on the war on drugs.
Chicago attorney James H. Mutchnik of Kirkland was to lead the discussion on the impact that the new e-discovery rules have had on civil practice.
The other program was to be moderated by Thomas K. McQueen, a Chicago attorney with Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal LLP who formerly served as a federal prosecutor, and Patrick S. Layng, regional coordinator for the criminal enforcement unit of the office of the U.S. trustee for the Northern District of Illinois.
Easterbrook was to give his annual State of the Circuit address at a luncheon later in the day.
U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., was to follow with his own remarks and then Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada was to give a presentation on her country's judicial system.
Those attending the meeting were to have a choice of three programs to attend following the luncheon.
Executive Director Daniel W. Stiller of Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin was to lead a program titled "Mortgage Issues in Consumer Bankruptcy," while Lynn P. Cohn was to moderate a discussion on practices in alternate dispute resolution that courts might adopt.
Cohn is an associate professor of law and director of the Program on Negotiation and Mediation at Northwestern University School of Law.
Panelists slated to participate in "What the Courts can Learn from ADR" included Chief Judge James F. Holderman of the Northern District of Illinois and Kenneth R. Feinberg, special master of the Federal September 11 Victims Compensation Fund of 2001.
The third program early Monday afternoon was to be a seminar on statutory interpretation led by Associate Professor Amy Coney Barrett of Notre Dame Law School.
Langan noted that the program would be a departure from the typical panel discussion.
Rather than listen to panelists speak and then ask questions, participants will be expected to engage in a discussion based on seminar materials they read in advance, Langan said.
"This is more like a law professor teaching," Langan said.
Late Monday afternoon, Professor Douglas G. Baird of the University of Chicago Law School is to moderate a panel discussion on valuation in bankruptcy cases, while New York attorney Steven F. Molo of Shearman & Sterling LLP is to lead a program on how juries reach their verdicts.
Executive Director Daniel E. Stiller of the Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin Inc. is to lead the third program, a panel discussion on sentencing since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Booker ruling and the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines were amended.
Panelists are to include U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa of the Southern District of Texas, who serves as chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Easterbrook is to introduce U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens at a dinner Monday night, while Deputy U.S. Attorney General Mark R. Filip is to introduce the keynote speaker, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Also at the dinner, Judge Joel M. Flaum is to present the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award to a colleague on the 7th Circuit, Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner.
On Tuesday morning, 7th Circuit Clerk Gino J. Agnello is to report on the activities in 2007 of the federal courts in the circuit.
U.S. District Clerk Laura A. Briggs of the Southern District of Indiana is to be honored during the Tuesday morning session for her promotion of pro bono representations.
Also to be honored for their achievements are U.S. District Clerk Michael W. Dobbins and U.S. Bankruptcy Clerk Kenneth S. Gardner, both of the Northern District of Illinois.
Agnello's report and the award presentations are to be followed by one program titled "Aftershock of the KPMG Case," moderated by Indianapolis attorney Mark D. Stuaan of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, and another titled "The Evolution of Law Firms and the Legal Profession," moderated by Chicago attorney Joel F. Henning, senior consultant at Hildebrandt International Inc.
Members of the bench and bar then are to divide by districts to discuss such topics as juror note-taking and tips on practicing before particular courts.
After lunch, judges are to go into executive session to hear reports from individuals who include 7th Circuit Executive Collins T. Fitzpatrick.
Indianapolis attorney Bradley L. Williams of Ice, Miller LLP is to be selected president of the 7th Circuit Bar Association at the close of the meeting. His year-long term will begin in July.
Those planning the annual meeting included Chicago attorneys C. Graham Gerst and Barack S. Echols, both of Kirkland, and Milwaukee attorney G. Michael Halfenger of Foley & Lardner LLP.
Also planning the meeting were Indianapolis attorneys Philip A. Whistler of Ice, Miller and Christopher G. Scanlon of Baker & Daniels LLP.
Reprinted with permission from The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.