ILNews

Update: Confirmation doesn't stop court business

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Business is going on as usual this morning for the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana, despite a historic moment that's happened in the court.

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously about 5 p.m. Thursday to confirm Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence as a federal judge, meaning he'll be the Southern District's first-ever magistrate to be elevated to the constitutionally established Article III judge status.

Senators took a break from discussion on wiretapping to talk about judicial nominations, and held a roll-call vote at 4:35 p.m. that took about 30 minutes. The vote: 97-0.

President George W. Bush had selected Lawrence in February to succeed Judge John D. Tinder, whom the Senate confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals late last year. Lawrence won unanimous consent from the Senate Judiciary Committee May 22.

On Thursday, the Senate's floor vote played out on C-Span 2 for anyone able to watch.

Sen. Richard Lugar, who'd recommended Magistrate Lawrence, read a statement prior to the vote, saying the jurist possessed the same degree of integrity and intelligence as his predecessor, Judge Tinder, and was an example of the strong judicial leader needed for this position. The senator mentioned Magistrate Lawrence's background before taking the federal bench in 2002 - his work as a public defender and his time on the Marion Circuit Court, where he reduced pending cases by 20 percent within a few years of taking the bench.

"Throughout Bill's career, his reputation for personal courtesy, fairness, decency and integrity was equally well-earned and widespread among colleagues and opposing counsel alike and on both sides of the political aisle," Lugar told his fellow senators.

While the newly confirmed judge wasn't immediately available late Thursday or early Friday, Magistrate Lawrence's court staff watched the vote and was able to alert him about the news. He was caught up in settlement conferences until about 6 p.m., and he returned to settlement matters first thing this morning.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker described the confirmation as "an amazing culmination of the suspense," and said she's looking forward to it being official once the president signs off on it.

The process to find a new magistrate for the Southern District has already begun, and applications are due Monday.

 
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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