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Senator announces 3 federal judge nominees

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Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh has unveiled who's being nominated for three open seats on the state's federal bench.

Those nominees are: a federal magistrate, a state court judge, and a banking attorney who's served as a federal and county prosecutor in the past.

Traveling to the Indianapolis federal courthouse today, the senator announced that the White House is nominating U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, and Jon E. DeGuilio for three openings in the state's two U.S. District Courts. In the Northern District, DeGuilio would fill the void left by Judge Allen Sharp, who died in July after serving in senior status for about two years. The Southern District seats are open after Judge Larry McKinney took senior status in July and following Judge David F. Hamilton's elevation in November to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Today, we take a historic step in creating a more diverse federal judiciary in our state," Bayh said. "These highly qualified Hoosiers have impeccable records and rich backgrounds that will help move us closer to our goal of realizing equal justice under law."

Bayh said that each nominee has proven to be deserving of the public trust, demonstrating the highest ethical standards and a firm commitment to applying the country's laws fairly and faithfully.

Judge Magnus-Stinson started at the Marion Superior Court in 1995 after being appointed to fill a vacancy. There she presided over every type of felony case, as well as serving as associate presiding judge of the Marion Superior Court's Executive Committee. She moved to the federal bench in January 2007 to replace the retiring Magistrate Judge V. Sue Shields. Prior to the state bench, Judge Magnus-Stinson served as counsel and deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Bayh from 1991 to 1995, and she had worked in civil litigation at Indianapolis law firm LewisWagner for seven years before that. A native of Wisconsin, she earned her law degree from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis in 1983.

Judge Walton Pratt is currently the presiding judge in the Marion Superior Probate Division. She's been in that role since serving as presiding judge of the criminal division from 1997 to December 2008, where she handled major felonies and presided over 20 to 35 jury trials a year. She was first elected in 1996, but had served as a master commissioner in Marion Superior Court since 1993. Before donning the robe, Walton Pratt was a partner in the Indianapolis law firm of Walton & Pratt, focusing her practice on family law, bankruptcy, and probate law. She had also worked as a deputy public defender in Marion County. She earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law.

DeGuilio is executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary for Northwest Indiana Bancorp, and is also executive vice president and general counsel for Munster-based Peoples Bank. He joined the bank in December 1999 as senior vice president and trust officer, after leaving the public sector where he served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana from November 1993 to June 1999. DeGuilio is a former Lake County prosecutor, and has worked as a public defender and privately as a partner with Barnes & Thornburg, as well as in the law office of James L. Wieser. He earned his law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law in 1981. His community service includes working as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Lake County Juvenile Court.

As the White House is responsible for officially announcing any federal judicial nominees, Bayh's remarks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day preface what is expected to happen this week once Congress returns. Each jurist faces Senate confirmation - a process that has no timeline but could be influenced by the timing of the congressional elections in November and significant ongoing legislative issues, such as health-care reform.

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