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Dozens apply for new federal magistrate spot

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More than 40 attorneys have applied for a new magistrate spot in the Southern District of Indiana, the first new position since the 1980s.

Attorneys had until the end of Wednesday to apply for the full-time position based in Indianapolis, which the U.S. Judicial Conference had approved during its annual meeting in September. District Court Clerk Laura Briggs said she’s received 41 applications, though more might arrive in the coming days and would be accepted as long as they were postmarked by the deadline.

A merit-selection panel is being formed to review the applications, and the panel will recommend the most qualified applicants for the District judges to make the final choice. The same process happened earlier in the year when 52 applied for a magistrate vacancy created when Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson was elevated to an Article III judgeship. In August, the court selected Indianapolis attorney Mark Dinsmore to take that position.

The current annual salary for the position is $160,080 and it has a term of eight years.

Congress had previously authorized the Judicial Conference to create these new positions, and the funding for the magistrate begins April 1, 2011. The conference’s Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System had agreed in June that the Southern District of Indiana should receive one of the new magistrates since it’s one of the busiest courts nationally. Chief Judge Richard Young sat on that committee and the Judicial Conference.

Chief Judge Young said this process is different only in that the court will be operating at full judge and magistrate capability and not trying to fill a vacancy. The new magistrate will join the current full-time Magistrate Judges Tim Baker, Debra McVicker Lynch, William Hussman, and Dinsmore; part-time Magistrates Craig McKee and Mike Naville, who handle search warrant and criminal matters; and recalled Magistrate Kennard Foster.

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