Court excited about magistrate's elevation

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Within a week, the state's third federal female judge could be ready to handle her constitutionally created duties in the Southern District of Indiana.

The full Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed by voice vote U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, making her a federal judge and elevating her from the spot she's held since early 2007. She succeeds semi-retired Judge Larry McKinney.

Introducing the three nominees and speaking generally about them, Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., praised the trio but pointed out how Senate Republicans have delayed judicial nominations that end up being uncontroversial and approved unanimously.

"This is more than just an annoyance for those who've been nominated," Leahy said, noting the practicality of courts and individual nominees being hindered by the delays. "In meantime, their lives have been disrupted and the judiciary itself is put into disarray. There's no explanation, no excuse, no reason for these months of delay."

With this confirmation vote complete, this culminates a process that began for Magistrate Judge Magnus-Stinson in January, when President Barack Obama nominated her for the federal bench along with Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for a second Southern District opening, and attorney Jon DeGuilio for the Northern District of Indiana. No timeline is set for Judge Pratt's pending nomination; Senators confirmed DeGuilio last month.

Judge Magnus-Stinson declined to speak about the vote or her confirmation process before her commission is officially signed and received from President Obama. But Chief Judge Richard Young said that could happen in the coming days and she'll likely be ready for a full judicial docket next week.

Now that a confirmation vote is complete, a merit-selection panel is being chosen to select a new magistrate, he said. That panel will likely consist of 15 to 17 members, with at least two non-attorneys and at least seven lawyers. Applications are now being accepted and an ad will soon go out about the opening, the chief judge said. He hopes that selection process will happen quickly so that a new magistrate can be put in place in the coming months.

While he took the chief judge position in November 2009 and that has a term of seven years, Judge Magnus-Stinson is next on the roster of jurists to take that administrative position. She succeeded former Magistrate Judge V. Sue Shields in January 2007, after 12 years on the Marion Superior bench. Prior to the state bench, she worked in the early 1990s as chief legal counsel for then-Gov. Evan Bayh, who ultimately recommended her to the president.

"She's one of the most qualified we've had in some time, and has touched all the judicial bases," Chief Judge Young said.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who was the state's first woman judge on the federal bench, welcomed her colleague to the Article III family.

“She's a wonderful colleague already and she'll move smoothly into the District Court duties," Judge Barker said. "This will be a broader level of responsibility, but she'll do fine."

This nomination is historic, in that Judge Magnus-Stinson becomes only the third woman to ever be named to the federal bench in Indiana. She joins Judge Barker and Judge Teresa Springmann in the Northern District of Indiana.

Reflecting on that gender diversity, Judge Barker said she feels like former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor did when welcoming Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court.

"This is important. It's entirely welcome and has been a long time coming," Judge 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.