Coping under a judicial emergency that has been exacerbated by a sudden death of a Senior Judge Larry McKinney, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana is getting much needed help from its northern Hoosier neighbor.
Senior Judge Robert Miller Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, will sit on the Southern District bench by designation. The designation, signed by 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Diane Wood Thursday, will remain in effect at least through Dec. 31, 2018.
“Our judicial colleagues from across the 7th Circuit continue to humble us with their willingness to assist in our time of great need,” Southern District Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said. “We are deeply appreciative of Judge Miller’s willingness to sit by designation and welcome him to the Southern District’s court family. His tremendous experience, including supervision of multi-district litigation, will capably serve both our court and those appearing before it.”
The Southern District of Indiana is in a state of judicial emergency caused by an ongoing judicial vacancy, which opened in July 2014 when Judge Sarah Evans Barker took senior status, and a weighted filing which stood at 915 cases per judgeships in a 12-month period ending June 30.
At the time of his death on Sept. 20, McKinney had 250 pending civil cases and 27 pending criminal cases. While most cases will be reassigned to judges in the Southern District of Indiana, additional assistance is needed.
Miller will accept a continual docket of 50 cases in the Southern District. His inherited caseload includes a complex multidistrict litigation case that has multiple pending post-judgement motions.
Appointed by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Miller has been a judge for the Northern District of Indiana since 1985. He served as chief judge from 2003 through 2010 and assumed senior status Jan. 11, 2016. He received his J.D. degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1975.