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Committee OKs idea of new Indiana federal magistrate

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The state could be on its way to getting a new federal magistrate in the Southern District of Indiana, the first new magistrate in more than two decades.

At a meeting Friday, the 13-member Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System unanimously agreed that the court covering the southern third of Indiana should be one of six nationally to receive a new full-time magistrate position, according to Chief Judge Richard Young in the Southern District, who sits on the committee.

This committee action means the issue now moves on to the Judicial Conference of the United States, which will consider those recommendations when it meets in September.

This is the first request of its kind for the Southern District since the early 1980s, according to Chief Judge Young.

“I feel that it’s justified, because we have for a long time been one of the busiest District courts in the nation,” he said about the new position, noting that the Judicial Conference has previously approved an additional Article III judgeship here but Congress hasn’t yet authorized that. “With the budget and economy like it is, I don’t see Congress passing a judgeship bill in the near future. So, in order to acquire judicial help in our District, we decided to request an additional magistrate judge.”

Congress had previously authorized the Judicial Conference to create six new positions, according to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. Aside from this requested position, Chief Judge Young said the committee’s other recommendations also include the Central District of California, the District of Nevada, and the District of Minnesota. Committee Chair Judge George King in California could not be reached at IL daily deadline to confirm all six of the positions.

If approved later this year, the new magistrate would be based in Indianapolis and would join the ranks of full-time Magistrate Judges Tim Baker, Debra McVicker Lynch, William Hussman; as well as part-time Magistrates Craig McKee and Mike Naville who handle search warrant and criminal matters; and recalled Magistrate Kenneth Foster.

Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson was confirmed last week by the U.S. Senate to become an Article III judge, and that transition is happening this week and will create a magistrate vacancy that the Southern District is now working to fill.

Finding someone to fill this potential new magistrate spot would happen the same way as is now occurring with the position held by Judge Magnus-Stinson: a merit selection panel is being formed to review applications and those members will choose a successor this year, Chief Judge Young said.
 

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