Court excited about magistrate's elevation

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Within a week, the state's third federal female judge could be ready to handle her constitutionally created duties in the Southern District of Indiana.

The full Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed by voice vote U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, making her a federal judge and elevating her from the spot she's held since early 2007. She succeeds semi-retired Judge Larry McKinney.

Introducing the three nominees and speaking generally about them, Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., praised the trio but pointed out how Senate Republicans have delayed judicial nominations that end up being uncontroversial and approved unanimously.

"This is more than just an annoyance for those who've been nominated," Leahy said, noting the practicality of courts and individual nominees being hindered by the delays. "In meantime, their lives have been disrupted and the judiciary itself is put into disarray. There's no explanation, no excuse, no reason for these months of delay."

With this confirmation vote complete, this culminates a process that began for Magistrate Judge Magnus-Stinson in January, when President Barack Obama nominated her for the federal bench along with Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for a second Southern District opening, and attorney Jon DeGuilio for the Northern District of Indiana. No timeline is set for Judge Pratt's pending nomination; Senators confirmed DeGuilio last month.

Judge Magnus-Stinson declined to speak about the vote or her confirmation process before her commission is officially signed and received from President Obama. But Chief Judge Richard Young said that could happen in the coming days and she'll likely be ready for a full judicial docket next week.

Now that a confirmation vote is complete, a merit-selection panel is being chosen to select a new magistrate, he said. That panel will likely consist of 15 to 17 members, with at least two non-attorneys and at least seven lawyers. Applications are now being accepted and an ad will soon go out about the opening, the chief judge said. He hopes that selection process will happen quickly so that a new magistrate can be put in place in the coming months.

While he took the chief judge position in November 2009 and that has a term of seven years, Judge Magnus-Stinson is next on the roster of jurists to take that administrative position. She succeeded former Magistrate Judge V. Sue Shields in January 2007, after 12 years on the Marion Superior bench. Prior to the state bench, she worked in the early 1990s as chief legal counsel for then-Gov. Evan Bayh, who ultimately recommended her to the president.

"She's one of the most qualified we've had in some time, and has touched all the judicial bases," Chief Judge Young said.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who was the state's first woman judge on the federal bench, welcomed her colleague to the Article III family.

“She's a wonderful colleague already and she'll move smoothly into the District Court duties," Judge Barker said. "This will be a broader level of responsibility, but she'll do fine."

This nomination is historic, in that Judge Magnus-Stinson becomes only the third woman to ever be named to the federal bench in Indiana. She joins Judge Barker and Judge Teresa Springmann in the Northern District of Indiana.

Reflecting on that gender diversity, Judge Barker said she feels like former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor did when welcoming Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court.

"This is important. It's entirely welcome and has been a long time coming," Judge Barker said.


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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise