Portraits of Chief Judge Pratt, Judge Magnus-Stinson unveiled at federal courthouse

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The Birch Bayh Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse in downtown Indianapolis. (IL file photo)

On one of the walls inside Southern District of Indiana Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s courtroom at the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse is a portrait of Judge David Hamilton.

At a ceremony Thursday that unveiled new commissioned portraits of Pratt and Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson inside their respective courtrooms, the chief judge pointed out Hamilton’s portrait to a crowd of friends, family members, former clerks and fellow jurists.

Pratt called Hamilton, who served as Southern District Court chief judge from 2008-2009 before being elevated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, a brilliant and courageous jurist and said seeing his portrait on the wall gives her inspiration and hope in whatever she is handling in the courtroom.

“My hope is that my portrait will inspire future generations of judges that are sitting on this bench, and lawyers and litigants who practice in this courtroom, as we advance jurisprudence and try to make this nation a more just society through the legal system,” Pratt said, adding that she hoped she could leave a legacy her grandchildren can be proud of.

Pratt, the first African American to serve as chief judge in the Southern District Court, said she and Magnus-Stinson are “truly sisters” who began their state court journeys together around the same time in the mid-1990s. Also, they each took the federal bench in the same year, 2010.

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The portrait of Indiana Southern District Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt by Abner Cope. (IL photo/Daniel Carson)

The chief judge said she was glad she and Magnus-Stinson were doing their portrait unveilings together. She noted that the two federal judges had served on the Southern District bench for 13 years and joked that they both really wanted to get their portraits done so they “didn’t look old.”

Pratt assumed office as a district judge on June 15, 2010, becoming the first African American federal judge in Indiana history.

From 2008 until her appointment to the bench of the district court, she had served as a judge in the Marion Superior Court, Probate Division.

Magnus-Stinson, who announced in September that she would be assuming senior status in July 2024, was also sworn in as a Southern District judge in June 2010.

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The portrait of Indiana Southern District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson by Keith Klein. (IL photo/Daniel Carson)

Prior to her appointment as district judge, Magnus-Stinson had served as a magistrate judge in the Southern District of Indiana, beginning in January 2007.

Inside the William E. Steckler Ceremonial Courtroom on the federal courthouse’s second floor, Magnus-Stinson said the addition of her portrait on the courtroom’s walls would represent a first.

“This will be the first time there’s been a (portrait of a) woman hanging on the walls of this courtroom,” she said.

Pratt chose Abner Cope to paint her portrait, while Magnus-Stinson chose Keith Klein as her portraitist.

The chief judge said she has been familiar with Cope’s work for many years.

“I love my portrait. I think it’s very realistic,” she said.

Magnus-Stinson said she liked that her portrait displayed “a little gleam in the eye” and reiterated that she was proud to be the first woman in that space.

“The Ceremonial Courtroom has been diversified,” she said.

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