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President, Senate move on Indiana nominations

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Indiana's legal community got a mixed bag of gifts on Christmas Eve, as one former Hoosier attorney received Senate confirmation for an ambassadorship, a federal prosecutor in Hammond learned he might be promoted, and a Bloomington law professor got what amounts to a lump of coal as senators sent her nearly yearold nomination back to the president for reconsideration.

The flurry of activity started late Dec. 23 and carried over into Christmas Eve, with Sen. Evan Bayh announcing that David Capp would be the pick for the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana. The veteran prosecutor has been with the office for 24 years, filling in three times as interim chief and most recently since July 2007 after his predecessor Joseph Van Bokkelen took the federal bench.

Capp has worked for the U.S Attorney's Office since 1985, serving as second-incommand as a deputy or interim chief since 1991. Since taking the temporary post two years ago, Capp has continued his predecessor's push to prosecute corrupt politicians and said corruption prosecutions will remain a priority as long as he heads the office. He also said drug pros- ecutions should make the region safer for families.

Prior to federal service, Capp was a partner at Cohen & Thiros in Merrillville. He is a graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law.

Capp now faces Senate confirmation, a process that will likely begin early this year. He declined to comment until that process is finished, but he said he was "truly honored" by the nomination. The White House officially announced Capp's nomination Dec. 24, just hours after the U.S. Senate made its historic vote on health care reform and followed up with action on numerous pending nominations.

One of those approved nominees was former Hoosier attorney Anne Slaughter Andrew, whom the president had chosen in October to be ambassador to Costa Rica. She is the principal of Washington, D.C.-based New Energy Nexus LLC and advises companies and entrepreneurs about ways to capitalize on this new energy economy. An attorney who earned her degree from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis, Andrew has also advised companies in corporate environmental and energy practices and served as of counsel at Bingham McHale, cochair of the Environment/Energy Team at Baker & Daniels, and was a partner at the Washington, D.C., law office of Patton & Boggs.

But while approving Andrew and many others for positions, the Senate declined to act on six pending nominations. One of those was Dawn Elizabeth Johnsen, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington, who'd been nominated in January 2009 to run the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel.

Opposition has stacked up against her in the past year, specifically about her criticism of the Bush administration's justice officials and their political considerations. As a result, her nomination sat mostly in limbo for 10 months and senators refused to cast a final vote on her. Senate rules say that nominations must be wrapped up by year's end of the legislative session, and if not confirmed then carried over by a unanimous consent agreement or sent back to the president.

The White House must now decide whether to renominate Johnsen and those other nominees, or find new nominees for the vacant posts. If the president wants Johnsen to serve in his administration, he'll have to renominate her and start the confirmation process largely from scratch.

The White House didn't respond to an email from Indiana Lawyer seeking comment on Johnsen's nomination, and a spokesman in Sen. Bayh's office in Washington, D.C., couldn't be reached for comment.

While news of the nomination happenings came in late December, those involved in the process said there wasn't any indication when other nominations might be announced.

The U.S. Attorney post in the Southern District of Indiana remains open following Susan Brooks' departure in 2007, and Tim Morrison has been acting in that role until a permanent nomination is announced and approved. The state also has three judicial seats vacant - one in the Northern District of Indiana where Judge Allen Sharp died in July 2009 after nearly two years of senior status; and the seats of Judge Larry McKinney who took senior status in July 2009, and Judge David F. Hamilton, recently confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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