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Hoosiers see holiday activity on nominations

January 1, 2009
Indiana's legal community got a mixed bag of gifts on Christmas Eve, as one former Hoosier attorney received Senate confirmation for an ambassadorship, a federal prosecutor in Hammond learned he might be promoted, and a Bloomington law professor got what amounts to a lump of coal as senators declined to act on her nearly year-old nomination.

The flurry of activity started late Dec. 23 and carried over into Christmas Eve, with Sen. Evan Bayh announcing first that David Capp would be the pick for the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana. The veteran prosecutor has been with the office for 24 years, serving three times as interim chief and most recently since July 2007 when his predecessor Joseph Van Bokkelen took the federal bench. Capp now faces Senate confirmation, a process that will likely begin in early 2010.

The White House officially announced Capp's nomination on Dec. 24, just hours after the U.S. Senate made the historic vote on health-care reform and followed that up with action on several pending nominations.

One of those nominees approved was Anne Slaughter Andrew, whom the president had chosen in October to be ambassador to Costa Rica. She is the principal of Washington, D.C.-based New Energy Nexus LLC and advises companies and entrepreneurs about ways to capitalize on this new energy economy. An attorney who earned her degree from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis, Andrew has also advised companies in corporate environmental and energy practices and served as of counsel at Bingham McHale, was co-chair of the Environment/Energy Team at Baker & Daniels, and was a partner at the Washington, D.C., law office of Patton & Boggs.

But while approving Andrew and multiple others for positions, the Senate declined to act on seven pending nominations. In a unanimous consent agreement, the Senate sent back to the White House for consideration the nomination of Dawn Elizabeth Johnsen, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington. She was chosen in January to run the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel. Opposition stacked up against her during the past year, specifically about her criticism of the department during the Bush administration and the use of executive powers.

The White House must now decide whether to renominate Johnsen and six other nominees, or find new nominees for those vacant posts. The White House didn't respond to an email from Indiana Lawyer seeking comment on this action, nor did a spokesman in Sen. Bayh's office in Washington, D.C.
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