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Senators still stalling judge's Circuit nomination

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An Indianapolis judge's potential elevation to the federal appeals bench remains controversial even as the full U.S. Senate inches closer to voting on his nomination in the next week.

As legislators prepared to confirm another federal judge's nomination Monday, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he hopes to have a vote on U.S. Judge David F. Hamilton's move to the 7th Circuit on the morning of Nov. 16. Judge Hamilton currently sits on the Southern District of Indiana's bench as chief judge.

The Republican minority wants 30 hours of debate on the judge's nomination, according to Reid, who said Democratic leaders might be forced to cut debate in order to bring a vote to the full legislative body.

Reid said he hopes to reach an agreement with the Republicans on the $134 million military construction legislation. Those negotiations could impact the discussion on Judge Hamilton's vote, and Reid said it would be a shame to invoke the debate-ending procedural move known as cloture.

But it's important to hold confirmation votes for the judicial vacancies soon, before the Senate turns to the sweeping health-care reform legislation before leaving for its Thanksgiving break the following week, Reid said.

His office confirmed this morning that a cloture motion on Judge Hamilton's nomination would likely be filed today, before senators leave for a three-day Veteran's Day break.

Judge Hamilton has been on the District bench since 1994. If confirmed, he would succeed Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple, who took senior status in September 2008.

President Barack Obama nominated Judge Hamilton in February - the new president's first judicial pick. Though the judge made it through the Senate Judicial Committee in June, he's faced five months of delay as Republican members used rules to hold up a vote before the full Senate.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., appeared before the Senate Monday and blasted Republicans for stalling action on Obama's judicial picks, noting that 10 judicial nominees are pending on the calendar and only a few have been confirmed at this point.

"The obstruction and delays in considering President Obama's judicial nominations is especially disappointing given the extensive efforts by President Obama to turn away from the divisive approach taken by the previous administration and to reach out to Senators from both parties as he selects mainstream, well-qualified nominees," Leahy said in a floor statement.

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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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