Barnes partner tapped to fill last Indiana vacancy in federal judiciary

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Damon R. Leichty, partner in the South Bend office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, has been nominated to serve as a judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, potentially filling the last empty seat in the federal judiciary in Indiana.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Leichty will fill the vacancy created when Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr., took senior status in January 2016. His nomination, announced Friday, was part of what the White House billed as the “sixteenth wave of judicial nominees.”

Philip Faccenda, Jr., managing partner of the Barnes & Thornburg’s South Bend office, said the firm is extremely proud of Leichty.

“This is a distinct honor for those of us in the legal profession, and this nomination is testament to Damon’s abilities and accomplishments as a lawyer at our firm,” Faccenda said. “We look forward to supporting him throughout the confirmation process.”

For Leichty, the nomination brings his career full circle. Following his graduation from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Leichty served as law clerk for Miller from 2001 to 2003.

Miller’s seat on the federal court was the last in Indiana to get a nominee. Since taking office, President Donald Trump has nominated three Hoosier attorneys to fill vacancies in Indiana’s Southern and Northern District Courts.

In the Northern District, Haller & Colvin attorney Holly Brady has been tapped to replace Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen. In the Southern District, Faegre Baker Daniels partner James Patrick Hanlon has been nominated for Judge William Lawrence’s seat and James Sweeney II, Leichty’s Barnes & Thornburg colleague, has been chosen to fill the vacancy created when Southern Indiana District Judge Sarah Evans Barker took senior status in June 2014.

Previously, Winfield Ong was nominated to Evans’ seat by President Barack Obama. He passed through the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on a voice vote, but his nomination stalled when the Senate did not schedule a confirmation vote. 

Brady, Hanlon and Sweeney have all been approved by the judiciary committee and are awaiting confirmation votes by the full Senate. However, when their nominations will be brought to the floor for consideration is uncertain, especially with a fight looming over Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

As an attorney in private practice, Leichty has represented clients in complex civil litigation in more than 25 federal and state jurisdictions across the United States. He regularly counsels manufacturers on product liability and contracts warranties, as well as various strategies to develop and market products.

Leichty has also served on the Federal Local Rules Advisory Committee for the Northern District of Indiana and is an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. 

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