ILNews

Hogsett tapped for U.S. Attorney post

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

When Indianapolis attorney Joe Hogsett received the news that he’d been tapped by President Barack Obama to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, one of his first thoughts was that this could be the next home run in his career.

That wasn’t because of anything he was doing in court or for a client, though. At the time he got the call about the nomination, the senior partner at Bingham McHale was walking out of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, where he was on vacation for his 12-year-old son’s weeklong baseball tournament.

“Walking out of the home of baseball when you get a call about the president giving you such an honor. … You can’t get any more American and patriotic than that,” the 53-year-old attorney told Indiana Lawyer within an hour of the White House announcement on July 14. “What a uniquely American experience, and I’m so extremely honored to be thought of for this.”
 

Hogsett Joe Hogsett

Limited in what he says publicly about the job prior to getting Senate approval, Hogsett said he’s looking forward to the confirmation process and that it’s an honor to be chosen for such a critically important post, which hasn’t had a presidentially appointed leader in almost three years.

The last confirmed leader was Susan Brooks, who left in October 2007 to take a general counsel and vice president spot at Ivy Tech Community College. Longtime second-in-command and previous interim leader Timothy Morrison took over that role temporarily until a new nominee could be found, and the gap that’s now lasted 33 months appears to be the longest on record.

For the Southern District, the U.S. Attorney manages a staff of about 80 people that includes roughly 30 lawyers. Morrison said the office in recent years typically handles an average 1,300 new civil cases and 1,300 pending ones, 350 new criminal cases and about the same number of pending ones, as well as about 2,000 active financial litigation cases that have collected about $20.1 million over the past three years.

Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh had recommended Hogsett, who’s been practicing since 1981 following his graduation that year from what is now the Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington. The Rushville native started his career in private practice at the only firm he’s ever been with, despite detours into the political arena as a stalwart Democrat and close friend and political ally to Bayh.

After law school, Hogsett started out as an associate at what was then Bingham Summers Welsh & Spilman and specialized in appellate procedure and federal employment law. But his public service passions took him to the Secretary of State’s office as a deputy in June 1987 under Bayh’s leadership. Once Bayh become governor, Hogsett took over that top spot and then won the election for a four-year term. In 1995, Hogsett became then-Gov. Bayh’s chief of staff and senior advisor until 1997. Though he made some unsuccessful bids for Congress during the 90s, Hogsett didn’t set his sights on political roles after working for Bayh and returned to Bingham, becoming partner in 2000.

Now he specializes in employment law and civil rights cases and handles individual employment contracts, non-compete agreements, sexual harassment and retaliation claims, and immigration compliance, as well as defending businesses on those issues in state and federal courts. He also assists the firm’s government department in advising Hoosier cities, towns, and counties on various issues.

During the past decade, he’s been through a significant merger that changed the name to Bingham McHale and has also kept up his political passions by serving from 2003 to 2004 as state chair of the Indiana Democratic Party. He’s also kept up his status as an avid runner, being a five-time competitor in the Boston Marathon and competing in the Indianapolis mini-marathon. He also has seized additional education at every possible chance to the point he now has four Master’s degrees – one in English from Butler University in 1987, in theological studies from Christian Theological Seminary in 1999, and in history from I.U. in 2007.

In praising Hogsett’s experience, intellect, and temperament overall, Bayh said his longtime political ally’s background in the legal community makes him qualified for the position. Specifically, the senator cited Hogsett’s first-chairing of many high-profile federal trials during his years as a practicing attorney, and his leadership as Secretary of State. In that job, Hogsett supervised multiple fraud prosecutions against unscrupulous stockbrokers and helped provide restitution to Hoosiers, and he also enforced Indiana’s lobbying laws and won accolades from public watchdog groups, according to Bayh’s office.

Those in the legal community who know Hogsett or have personally practiced alongside or in opposition of the employment lawyer say he’s a qualified, good choice for U.S. Attorney.

Attorney Ryan Fox at Haskin & LaRue in Indianapolis has worked with and against Hogsett, and said his colleague was always well prepared and both fierce and cordial in his advocacy when needed.

“Because he was always prepared and (had) knowledge of the legalese on each issue and the facts of the case, his advocacy was so much better,” Fox said. “That ultimately helps whoever he’s representing.”

Others echoed similar insights, including one of the highest-profile litigators in Indianapolis who was also being considered for this U.S. Attorney post last year before withdrawing her name in October. That lawyer is Linda Pence, a former Department of Justice attorney who’s been practicing for 36 years and recently left Taft Stettinius & Hollister to co-found the law firm Pence Hensel.

“I think he’ll make a tremendous U.S. Attorney and will be a perfect helmsman for that office,” Pence said of Hogsett, who is a fellow Democrat and in 2008 had chaired her unsuccessful campaign for state Attorney General. “He’s been a civil trial lawyer for a very long time, and is used to reviewing complicated and complex issues and coming out with sound reasoning. You need someone who’s very quick to grasp those broad types of issues, and he’s got the intellect and legal skills to do this.”

Former U.S. Attorney Brooks, now at Ivy Tech, said that Hogsett seems very qualified for the position that she held for six years as a Republican appointee. She’s known him for years through political circles and has never observed him in action as a practicing attorney, but she’s heard through fellow lawyers about his stellar reputation.

“Truly, you need to be a good manager to do a good job in this spot and he’s got that experience,” she said.

Brooks described the importance of this nomination, but she emphasized that it’s even more important to have the career attorneys, investigators, and administrative staff who make the office run. A newly confirmed leader may help pull resources and energize an office so that it meets the White House and administration’s vision, but those on the front lines carry the weight.

She reflected on her appointment, which came after a three-month nomination process that culminated about a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That national tragedy came during President George W. Bush’s first year and hardly any presidential appointments had been made and confirmed at that time, she said.

“The worst incident in our country, maybe forever, and it was those career people who led the DOJ through that ordeal before the presidential people came in a month later and got more resources devoted to the work that was already happening,” she said

Now, Hogsett faces a confirmation process that requires U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approval and confirmation by the full Senate. Spokesman Brian Weiss in Bayh’s office in Washington, D.C., said there isn’t a set timetable for when the Senate might take action. Some have generally speculated that the process might wrap up by year’s end, when Bayh leaves office after his decision to not seek re-election to the Senate.

If confirmed this year, Hogsett would be the state’s second new U.S. Attorney following the Senate’s approval in May for interim leader David Capp to take that position for the Northern District of Indiana, which had been vacant since Joseph Van Bokkelen’s confirmation for the federal bench in mid-2007.

Hogsett would be the 18th person to hold the Southern District post since it was created in 1928. Before that time, Indiana was one jurisdiction with a single attorney representing the state. The first U.S. Attorney for Indiana was named in 1813 while Indiana was still a territory.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  2. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  3. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  4. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

  5. The story that you have shared is quite interesting and also the information is very helpful. Thanks for sharing the article. For more info: http://www.treasurecoastbailbonds.com/

ADVERTISEMENT