Indiana gets new federal magistrate

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

For the first time since the early 1980s, the Southern District of Indiana has gotten approval to hire a new full-time federal magistrate.

The U.S. Judicial Conference, which is the policy-making arm of the federal court system, approved during its annual fall meeting on Tuesday the Indianapolis-based magistrate spot along with three others throughout the country.

“We are very pleased about this, and it’ll certainly help our magistrates process their work even more efficiently,” said Chief Judge Richard Young, a member of the Judicial Conference that approved the measure. “We have one of the highest weighted caseloads in the country, and so this will help us process our work more quickly and get the litigants through the system a little quicker.”

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 get an additional magistrate since it’s one of the busiest courts nationally. Chief Judge Young sat on that committee, as well.

With ongoing budget and economic woes, the chief judge said it’s not likely that Congress will approve any new judgeships in the near future and that means other judicial help is needed. Chief Judge Young said the magistrate would be based in Indianapolis where space is available, and that one of the points the committee had considered was how the District wouldn’t have to find or rent space as a budget expense.

Applications for the position will be accepted in the coming weeks, according to Chief Judge Young. Once those applications are received, a merit-selection panel will review the applications and interview the individuals who apply before recommending five finalists for the District judges to consider.

The process will mirror what happened earlier this year when the District received 52 applications for a magistrate vacancy, created when U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson was elevated to a federal judgeship. In August, the court selected Indianapolis attorney Mark Dinsmore to take that position, and he’s currently awaiting a background check before he begins his work.

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 current full-time Magistrate Judges Tim Baker, Debra McVicker Lynch, William Hussman, and Dinsmore; as well as part-time Magistrates Craig McKee and Mike Naville who handle search warrant and criminal matters; and recalled Magistrate Kennard Foster.

Aside from that magistrate addition, the Southern District is also watching for possible impact from another Judicial Conference action that created a pilot project allowing cameras in some District Courts. The Southern District was part of a similar project in the early 1990s and that could make it a contender for this new project, though which courts will be allowed to participate hasn’t been decided.

What has been determined is that participating courts will record proceedings at the trial judge’s discretion, and that all parties must give their consent. The Federal Judicial Center will conduct a study on the pilot and provide reports during the first two years and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts will pay for any equipment and training that’s needed. The conference’s Committee on Court Administration and Case Management will flush out the details and logistics, though no timeline exists for now.

“Technology has changed so much and you just didn’t have social media networks and things like Facebook in the 90s,” Chief Judge Young said. “We want to see how this plays out now, in this new world of public access.”

In addition to the cameras and magistrate actions, the Judicial Conference also:

- Approved a new strategic plan for the federal judiciary that focuses on enhancing court accessibility, timeliness and efficiency, as well as attracting and retaining judicial and court executive talent, and efforts for increased education and training for judges and staff on various court issues. The plan is available online.

- Found a continuing need for all authorized bankruptcy judgeships -- 316 permanent and 36 temporary positions, and recommended that Congress not eliminate any of them in light of a 20 percent increase in filings between June 2009 and June 2010. The Senate is considering a bill that would create 13 additional bankruptcy judgeships and convert 22 existing temporary ones into permanent spots.

- Approved the creation of a public access program involving the Government Printing Office, American Association of Law Libraries, and Administrative Office of U.S. Courts that would offer free training and education to the public about the Public Access And Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. The program would also exempt from billing the first $50 of quarterly usage by a participating library.


Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.