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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. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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