Johnsen ‘watch’ is over

April 12, 2010
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Dawn Johnsen watch at Indiana Lawyer is over. Since her nomination to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, we waited for months and months (and months) for her nomination to be voted on … for her to be approved or rejected for the post. Nearly a year passed, and her nomination died. But she was re-nominated and approved again by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, so we waited some more for the full Senate to discuss and vote.

The wait is over. Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration for the post April 9. Our reporter Rebecca Berfanger described the situation in a previous post as “Dawn Johnsen fatigue.” Well, “Dawn Johnsen fatigue” has ended.

I was just at the investiture ceremony of her brother-in-law, 7th Circuit Judge David Hamilton, who briefly mentioned Johnsen, saying she deserved the nomination. When I got home from the ceremony an hour later, I learned she had withdrawn her name.

It’s surprising how long this process has taken, all the time essentially wasted, for us to reach this result. For 15 months, politics have held up Johnsen’s nomination. For 15 months, her life has been uncertain not knowing whether she’d be approved. And maybe most importantly, for 15 months, there still isn’t a Senate-approved head of that office in place. We are right back where we started in February 2009 when Johnsen’s name was submitted for the office.

The OLC is an important office. Let’s hope the next person nominated doesn’t have to wait 15 months to be approved or rejected by the Senate.
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  • How sad the president and the nation will not have the benefit over her wise counsel.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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