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Eyeing new magistrate openings

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Within a year, the federal court system that covers the southern half of Indiana could have two new full-time magistrates, one being a newly created position that would be the first creation of its kind in almost three decades.

At a meeting June 11, the 13-member Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System unanimously agreed that the Southern District of Indiana should be one of six nationally to receive a new full-time magistrate position. Chief Judge Richard Young in Indianapolis sits on the committee that makes recommendations to the Judicial Conference of the United States, which will consider those recommendations and make a final decision 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. It would be a significant change for the court jurisdiction that is one of the nation’s busiest.
 

richard young 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. The committee chair, Chief Judge George King in the Central District of California in Los Angeles, could not be reached to confirm all six of the positions by IL deadline for this story.

But Chief Judge Young said that if the position is approved later this year, the new magistrate would be based in Indianapolis where space is available. That was one item the committee considered because the District wouldn’t have to find or rent space for a new magistrate and add to the budget. Any new magistrate would join the current full-time Magistrate Judges Tim Baker, Debra McVicker Lynch, and William Hussman; as well as part-time Magistrates Craig McKee and Mike Naville who handle search warrant and criminal matters; and recalled Magistrate Kennard Foster.

That person would add to the change already taking place at the Southern District following the recent confirmation of Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson for an Article III judgeship. The Senate confirmed her nomination June 7 and she was sworn in June 14, creating a magistrate position opening for the first time since January 2007 when she took that post.

Finding someone to fill the potential new magistrate spot would happen the same way as is now occurring with the position vacated by Judge Magnus-Stinson: a merit-selection panel made up of 15 to 17 attorney and non-attorney members has been formed to review applications, handle interviews, and select candidates to recommend for the position, Chief Judge Young said. The process is confidential to protect applicants’ privacy, and the five most qualified candidates will be forwarded to the District judges for consideration and final approval.

Applicants – who should generally have practiced for at least five years and be 70 years old or younger – have until July 14 to apply. The position pays an annual salary of $160,080 and runs for an eight-year term before that person is eligible for reappointment.

A magistrate judge gets initial assignments and handles pre-trial work and mediation and settlement conferences. Magistrates also have limited jurisdiction in criminal cases to hear only misdemeanors. Parties can consent to allow magistrates to hear full cases and take them to trial. •
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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