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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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  2. 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."

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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