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Banking attorney confirmed as federal judge

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The Hoosier legal community has its newest federal judge in the Northern District of Indiana, and now two others up for judgeships in the state’s Southern District await their votes before the full U.S. Senate.

Senators turned away briefly from financial reform Tuesday evening to unanimously confirm by a voice vote the nomination of Jon E. DeGuilio for an Article III judgeship. Spokespersons for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Indiana’s Sen. Evan Bayh both confirmed the vote came just after 5 p.m.

DeGuilio succeeds the late U.S. Judge Allen Sharp, who’d served as a senior judge from November 2007 until his death last summer.

“I’m very honored, and this has been a very exciting process,” DeGuilio told Indiana Lawyer by phone today.

He said he watched his confirmation on C-Span 2 after receiving a call earlier that day from Bayh’s office about a nearing vote.

President Barack Obama chose DeGuilio for the judicial post in January, and his nomination got the green light from the Senate Judiciary Committee in March. With his confirmation, DeGuilio will step down as legal counsel of Peoples Bank in Munster. Prior to his current position, DeGuilio had served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana from 1993 to 1999 and had previously served as a prosecuting attorney and a public defender in Lake County. He also had served as former president of the Hammond City Council and the sheriff’s office legal advisor in the 1980s. He graduated from the Valparaiso University School of Law in 1981.

During the initial confirmation hearing, Bayh praised the man he had jointly recommended for the judge post with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar last year.

“Jon DeGuilio is a dedicated public servant with a firm commitment to applying our country’s laws fairly and faithfully,” Bayh said. “He possesses the highest ethical standards and has extensive experience in federal court. I am confident he will serve the people of Indiana with distinction and help ensure the speedy and efficient administration of justice for all our citizens.”

DeGuilio planned to speak with Chief Judge Philip Simon and Judge Robert Miller today about logistics, but generally he expects the president’s signing of his commission to happen pretty quickly.

Chief Judge Simon said the court was excited to finally have a new judge for the federal bench there. The court hasn’t yet analyzed the existing caseloads to determine what DeGuilio will receive once he starts on the bench, but the chief judge said the new jurist will be assigned to the South Bend division where Judge Sharp had presided. He added he wants to give DeGuilio about a month to get his feet wet before filling his docket.

“We’re all just very happy and delighted to get him on board,” Chief Judge Simon said, noting that he once worked for DeGuilio in the ’90s in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “He’s very pleasant to work with and a good man, and he’s going to be a terrific addition.”

Meanwhile, the legal community awaits the full votes on Indiana’s two other pending judicial nominations – announced at the same time as DeGuilio ­– U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who are nominated for spots in the Southern District of Indiana.

Some within the legal community had speculated that Monday’s nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court of the United States might slow the state’s pending judicial picks. That turned out to not be the case for DeGuilio, though. Bayh’s spokesman Brian Weiss said Tuesday evening he wasn’t sure when the full Senate might schedule votes on Judges Magnus-Stinson or Walton Pratt, but he said it could come quickly if senators reach an agreement for an up or down vote.

 

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