President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana will get a hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in Washington.
Winfield D. Ong, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District was nominated in January to fill a vacancy on the Indianapolis-based federal bench. Ong would succeed Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who took senior status in June 2014.
Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats and Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly have both said they support Ong’s nomination.
A long-serving federal prosecutor, Ong is an Evansville native who graduated cum laude from DePauw University and earned his law degree at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. He was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1987.
After serving as a law clerk for Judge Gene Brooks of the Southern District of Indiana, Ong joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1989 where he worked in the civil division until 1995. Then he became the director of program integrity for Anthem Inc. He returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District in 1996.
In March 2014, Ong received the prestigious Director’s Award from the Department of Justice for his work in prosecuting the massive white collar fraud case involving Tim Durham, James Cochran and Rick Snow, who were convicted of bilking more than $200 million from 5,000 victims.
Also Wednesday, the committee will consider a nominee for a Wisconsin seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Donald Karl Schott, a partner in Quarles & Brady LLP’s office in Madison, Wisconsin, has been nominated to fill a six-year-old vacancy on the court. Schott would fill the seat on the Circuit Court created when Judge Terence Evans retired to senior status in January 2010.
Obama also nominated Ice Miller LLP partner and former Indiana justice Myra Selby to fill a vacancy on the 7th Circuit left after Judge John Tinder retired last year. She has not yet had a nomination hearing scheduled. At the time of her nomination, Coats said selecting a nominee for the federal appellate court should be done by a commission because the court has not been declared as having a judicial emergency, as is the case in the Southern District of Indiana.