Vote on Indiana federal judicial nominees held over

The nominees for the Northern and Southern Indiana district courts will have to wait at least another week before they receive a vote from the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

The committee unanimously agreed Thursday to hold over a host of nominees to the federal bench. Included on that list were Holly Brady and James Patrick Hanlon, nominees for the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts, respectively.

Both Indiana Senators, Todd Young, a Republican, and Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, gave their support when Brady and Hanlon testified before the judiciary committee on June 6. During his remarks, Donnelly noted that Jane Magnus-Stinson, chief judge for the Southern Indiana District, was at the hearing.

Although the Hoosier Democrat did not explain why the chief judge in attendance, Carol Tobias, University of Richmond School of Law professor, saw Magnus-Stinson as making an “astute political move” by going to Capitol Hill. The Southern District of Indiana is in a judicial emergency with one of the highest caseloads among the district courts in the country and what will soon be two vacant seats.

The U.S. Senate has been slow to fill the vacancy created when Judge Sarah Evans Barker took senior status in June 2014. Winfield Ong was nominated by President Barack Obama and approved on a voice vote by the judiciary committee, but he never received a vote by the upper chamber.

James Sweeney, partner at Barnes & Thornburg, has been tapped to fill Barker’s seat. Like Ong, the judiciary committee approved his nomination on a voice vote, but he is still awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. If confirmed, Hanlon will fill the seat that opens when Judge William Lawrence takes senior status on July 1.

Tobias said Magnus-Stinson’s trip would give her the opportunity to “button hole” the Senators and impress upon them the great need in her district court for judges. It was a “smart move on her part,” he said.

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