Update: Confirmation doesn't stop court business

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Business is going on as usual this morning for the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana, despite a historic moment that's happened in the court.

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously about 5 p.m. Thursday to confirm Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence as a federal judge, meaning he'll be the Southern District's first-ever magistrate to be elevated to the constitutionally established Article III judge status.

Senators took a break from discussion on wiretapping to talk about judicial nominations, and held a roll-call vote at 4:35 p.m. that took about 30 minutes. The vote: 97-0.

President George W. Bush had selected Lawrence in February to succeed Judge John D. Tinder, whom the Senate confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals late last year. Lawrence won unanimous consent from the Senate Judiciary Committee May 22.

On Thursday, the Senate's floor vote played out on C-Span 2 for anyone able to watch.

Sen. Richard Lugar, who'd recommended Magistrate Lawrence, read a statement prior to the vote, saying the jurist possessed the same degree of integrity and intelligence as his predecessor, Judge Tinder, and was an example of the strong judicial leader needed for this position. The senator mentioned Magistrate Lawrence's background before taking the federal bench in 2002 - his work as a public defender and his time on the Marion Circuit Court, where he reduced pending cases by 20 percent within a few years of taking the bench.

"Throughout Bill's career, his reputation for personal courtesy, fairness, decency and integrity was equally well-earned and widespread among colleagues and opposing counsel alike and on both sides of the political aisle," Lugar told his fellow senators.

While the newly confirmed judge wasn't immediately available late Thursday or early Friday, Magistrate Lawrence's court staff watched the vote and was able to alert him about the news. He was caught up in settlement conferences until about 6 p.m., and he returned to settlement matters first thing this morning.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker described the confirmation as "an amazing culmination of the suspense," and said she's looking forward to it being official once the president signs off on it.

The process to find a new magistrate for the Southern District has already begun, and applications are due Monday.


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  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well