Senators seek candidate to fill Judge Barker’s vacancy

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Indiana Sens. Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats have begun the process for selecting a candidate to fill the vacancy coming to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The vacancy is being created by Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s decision to take senior status effective June 30. Barker will remain on the bench until her replacement is confirmed after which she plans to dial back her case load to 80 percent.

Donnelly, a Democrat, and Coats, a Republican, issued a joint call Monday for applications from any candidates interested in becoming a member of the federal bench. The senators want to make the process clear and transparent and ensure that all qualified individuals in the legal community who are interested in the position have the opportunity to put their name forward.

Information about the process and applications are available online at The candidates should highlight their qualifications and reason for seeking the nomination. Questions on the application are based on the U.S. Senate judicial questionnaire.   

The application deadline is 5 p.m. EDT May 12.

Both Indiana senators thanked Barker for her years as a federal judge for the Southern District.

“We have been very lucky to have the benefit of her wisdom and judgment. A Mishawaka, Ind., native, she has dedicated most of her career to government service,” Donnelly said. “In addition to her tenure on the District Court, Judge Barker served as a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and on the staff of a U.S. Senator, U.S. Senate Committee and a U.S. Representative.”

Once the applications have been submitted, Donnelly and Coats will review the candidates then make recommendations to President Barack Obama. Traditionally, the president has chosen an individual from the recommendations made by the home state senators. That individual will then undergo the Senate confirmation process.

Coats pointed out the senators’ role in the federal judicial process.

“Federal judges are appointed for life and play a crucial role in our judicial system,” Coats said. “One of my constitutionally defined duties as a Senator is to provide advice and consent to the President on federal judicial nominees, and I take this responsibility seriously.”

How long the confirmation process can take and whether anyone will be confirmed this year is unknown.

In an interview about her decision to take senior status, Barker acknowledged getting a replacement could take a long time.   

“I will stay on until my successor is appointed which I have said in private asides, given the struggles Congress has getting these judges through the pipeline, it may be the rest of my natural life that I’m sitting here having made that offer to stay until my successor’s appointed,” Barker said.



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.