By now, Indiana may have its newest federal judge in the Southern District of Indiana.
The U.S. Senate was scheduled to vote on the confirmation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson at 5:30 p.m. June 7, which came after the deadline for this story. Confirmation approval meant that a woman who’s been on the federal bench for more than three years as a magistrate would be promoted to a constitutionally created Article III judgeship.
This news came almost five months after President Barack Obama nominated her for the federal post, following last summer’s change when U.S. Judge Larry McKinney took senior status. She had notified Indiana’s Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh about her interest in the spot last November, and her nomination in January came at the same time the president chose Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for a Southern District vacancy and Jon DeGuilio for a judgeship in the Northern District of Indiana.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved all three nominations in March. Following the recent legislative action, only Judge Pratt awaits a potential date for a confirmation vote. Senators unanimously confirmed DeGuilio May 11 to fill the seat occupied by U.S. Judge Allen Sharp until his death last summer.
Spokesman Brian Weiss in Bayh’s office in Washington, D.C., said at IL deadline that there was no indication when senators might turn to the nomination of Judge Pratt, who would fill an opening left by Judge David F. Hamilton when he was elevated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
With a possible green light for Magistrate Magnus-Stinson, the Southern District would have to fill the magistrate spot left open by her elevation. She left the Marion Superior bench in early 2007 following the retirement of U.S. Magistrate Judge V. Sue Shields, and a new vacancy would mean a merit-selection committee would be named to choose a new magistrate.
Prior to the senators’ final vote on Magistrate Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge Richard Young said that if she received confirmation he hoped the process to find a new magistrate would begin quickly and that a successor could be chosen by the fall.
The most current coverage on this nomination process and confirmation vote can be found online at the Indiana Lawyer website, www.theindianalawyer.com.•