Nominee for Southern District bench could be named by summer

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The vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana could be filled by the end of the year, according to Indiana’s Democratic U.S. senator.

Speaking Jan. 31 at the opening of his new Indianapolis office, Sen. Joe Donnelly said he and his Indiana colleague Sen. Dan Coats have been working together on the selection process and hope to have a candidate to put forward by the summer. He believes if he and Coats, a Republican, agree on an individual, that will help to pave the way to a confirmation by the Senate.

“I think if Sen. Coats and I come together on this, which we plan to do, it makes it much easier because that way it’s a very bi-partisan effort and, with that kind of effort, everybody should come on board,” Donnelly said.

The opening on the federal bench was created when Judge Sarah Evans Barker took senior status June 30, 2014. At that time, she announced she would continue to handle a full-load of cases until the new judge joins the court.

Through a spokesman, Sen. Coats said he is looking forward to continuing discussions with Donnelly and the White House “about the importance of filling Indiana’s open judicial seats with well-qualified candidates that the Senate can confirm.”

Donnelly said he and Coats have interviewed a “good number of incredibly qualified people” and are still taking applications for the seat as well. The Indiana senators are looking at the judicial philosophies of the candidates as well as their experience to make sure the nominee has the knowledge and depth of service to serve on the federal bench, Donnelly said.

“We’re both wanting to make sure that the person just has the appropriate qualifications,” Donnelly said. “We’re not putting forward any litmus tests at all. What we’re trying to do is make sure that they look at things with an open mind and with an understanding of who we are as Hoosiers.”



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