Sweeney takes oath of office as Southern District judge

Judge James R. Sweeney II of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana was sworn into office at 11 a.m. Monday as the Southern District’s newest judge since 2010.

Chief Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson administered the oath, fulfilling the final step in Sweeney’s ascent to the bench. Sweeney, 57, was confirmed by a voice vote last month on Capitol Hill and will fill the empty seat left by Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who assumed senior status in June 2014.

The Indianapolis native and Barnes & Thornburg partner received a nomination for the open position in November 2017 from President Donald Trump. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 28, 2018.

“The court is proud to welcome Judge Sweeney to the bench. He is an incredibly bright, hard-working, and talented attorney, and we know that he will make a fine judge,” Magnus-Stinson said in a statement. “He comes to the court at a time of great need, as we continue to work under ever-increasing caseloads. Having Judge Sweeney on board is a significant benefit to the court and to all citizens of the Southern District of Indiana.”

The Southern District Court is in a judicial emergency with a weighted caseload of 821 cases per judge, according the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Sweeney’s caseload will pull from the Indianapolis and Terre Haute divisions, including newly assigned cases as well as reassigned cases from other judges.

Sweeney is a veteran of the Marine Corps and graduated with merit from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983. After receiving an honorable discharge in 1992, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and started classes at Notre Dame Law School in 1993. 

Before joining Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, where he focused on intellectual property matters, Sweeney served as a judicial law clerk for Judge John D. Tinder during Tinder’s service as a Southern District judge. Sweeney also clerked for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James L. Ryan.

The Southern District Clerk’s office said it will release the date of Sweeney’s investiture ceremony later.

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