Ong still has path to Southern District seat

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With Republicans set to control the White House, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the fate of Indiana’s judicial nominees to the federal bench is even more uncertain.

Winfield Ong and Myra Selby were nominated in January by President Barack Obama to fill vacancies in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, respectively.

Ong, chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, received support from both Indiana Sens. Joe Donnelly, Democrat, and Dan Coats, Republican, and gained unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, but he is still waiting for a vote by the full Senate. Selby, partner at Ice Miler LLP and former justice on the Indiana Supreme Court, has only gotten support from Donnelly and has not had a committee hearing.

Glenn Sugameli, attorney and founder of the nonprofit judicial watchdog group, Judging the Environment, said Ong still could get a confirmation vote before the end of the year but the prospects for Selby are now much dimmer.

Selby’s nomination has been hindered by Coats’ refusal to sign his blue slip in support. Instead the Senator has called for the formation of a nominating commission to recommend potential candidates because the vacancy on the 7th Circuit has not been deemed an emergency.

The vacancy in the Southern Indiana District, created when Judge Sarah Evans Barker took senior status in June 2014, has been designated a judicial emergency because of the high caseload. In applauding Ong’s nomination, Coats has cited the emergency as the key reason for his support.

“If Coats really wants Ong, I think he certainly could get it done,” Sugameli said, “and I think he should get it done because of the strong need to fill the judicial emergency.”

Possibly helping Ong is a push by other Republican senators from other states to get their nominees confirmed. Traditionally, the Senate has voted on judicial candidates in the order in which they are approved by the judiciary committee. With nominees for district court vacancies in Republican strongholds of Idaho and Texas being sent to the upper chamber’s floor after Ong, the pressure for confirmation of these nominees could cause the Senate to hold a vote for the Hoosier.

The prospects for the nominee for the Wisconsin vacancy on the 7th Circuit, Donald Schott, is also very unclear. Although the Quarles & Brady partner has the support of the home state Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, who won re-election last night, he did not get unanimous support from the Judiciary Committee. After his hearing in June, the committee voted 13-7 to send his nomination to the Senate.


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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....