Judge reflects on new position on 1-year anniversary of confirmation

November 24, 2010
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This post is by reporter Michael Hoskins.

A year ago, U.S. Judge David F. Hamilton got the green light from the Senate to move up to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals from the Southern District of Indiana. His confirmation came Nov. 19, 2009, and he began his appellate duties on Nov. 22.

The dates didn’t stand out on his calendar recently, but the judge gladly took some time to talk with Indiana Lawyer about his positive experiences in the new job so far.

“At this point, I feel like I’m settling into the job pretty well,” he said, noting that he hasn’t counted the arguments he’s heard or the opinions written so far. “I’m just focusing on the work that needs to be done. I do miss the trials and closer interaction with juries and lawyers and witnesses, but I do enjoy the challenges.”

Traveling to the Chicago-based appeals court a couple times a month, Judge Hamilton said he usually gets there for two-day sittings at a time but also for non-argument duties. He’s also enjoyed becoming a part of the law school campus in Bloomington, spending as much as three-quarters of his time there. Though he’s had some interaction with students – participating in one class session so far and planning on more this next spring semester – the judge said he mostly is able to attend the lectures and events at the law school because of his judicial duties.

Coincidentally, that lecture-attending ability also gave him the chance most recently – on the day marking his confirmation vote in 2009 – to attend an event focusing on his sister-in-law Dawn Johnsen, who is an Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor who’d been going through the Senate confirmation process for a top Department of Justice spot at the same time. But while the judge survived that process, Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration earlier this year because of partisan delays and debate.

On Friday, she gave a lecture at the law school that marked the first time she publicly talked about that whole process. Judge Hamilton attended the event to hear her speak, since he now has one of his offices located at the Bloomington law school where Johnsen teaches. The judge declined to comment on Johnsen's nomination process and said he’d prefer to keep his focus on his own judicial work. You can read a new Indiana Lawyer story on that in our latest edition that’s posted online about her experience.

Of course, those two going through the same confirmation process at the same time certainly makes you ponder what it’d be like to be a fly on the wall at the upcoming holiday gatherings, or even those from last year just after the judge’s confirmation while her’s was still pending. That may be details we’ll never know.
 

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. 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?

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

  5. 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.

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