Durbin recommends five for vacancy on federal bench

By Bethany Krajelis | Jul 22, 2013


U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has recommended five downstate attorneys to fill a soon-to-be vacated seat on the federal bench in East St. Louis.

Durbin late last week forwarded his list of recommendations to President Barack Obama for consideration in filling a vacancy that will be created by the retirement of U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy.

Murphy, who was appointed to the post in 1997, announced earlier this year that he plans to hang his robe up in December and return to private practice in Marion. His impending retirement creates a vacancy on the downstate federal bench for the first time in more than a decade.

Based on the recommendations of a screening committee, Durbin’s list includes the following attorneys:  George A. Norwood, Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Stephen Stone, Lisa M. Wood and Staci M Yandle.

“Each of these well-qualified individuals would make an outstanding nominee for federal district court judge if selected by the President,” Durbin said in a statement. “After meeting personally with the recommended applicants, I am honored to forward these five names to President Obama.”

Durbin, a Democrat, said making judicial recommendations is one of “the most important responsibilities of a U.S. Senator” and that the bipartisan committee he assembled to screen applicants “did an incredible job.”

His screening committee was made up of six Illinoisans involved in various aspects of the legal professions and was co-chaired by Lois Wood, executive director of the Land of Lincoln Assistance Foundation, and retired Judge George W. Timberlake.

The committee recommended several individuals to Durbin after reviewing applications and interviewing applicants. Durbin then interviewed the finalists and after consulting with Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, submitted his recommendations to Obama.

Once the president submits his nominations for the vacancy to the U.S. Senate, the chamber’s Judiciary Committee will vote on the nominee. If the committee approves the nomination, the nominee will face a vote by the full Senate.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the professional backgrounds of Durbin’s five recommendations:

  • Norwood has worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Benton since 1998. He previously worked at Ice, Miller, Donadio & Ryan in Indianapolis and served as an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law.

  • Rosenstengel has served as the clerk of court for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois since 2009. She previously worked as a law clerk to Murphy for 11 years and practiced at Sandberg, Phoenix & von Contard in St. Louis.

  • Stone has worked at Howerton, Dorris & Stone in Marion since 2001.  He previously practiced at Harris, Lambert, Howerton & Dorris in Marion and at Brandon & Schmidt in Carbondale.

  • Wood has worked as the assistant vice chancellor and associate general counsel at Washington University in St. Louis since 2012. Prior to that, she practiced at Armstrong Teasdale for 23 years.

  • Yandle has owned her own practice, the Law Offices of Staci M. Yandle, in O’Fallon since 2007.  She previously worked at The Rex Carr Law Firm and Carr, Korein, Tillery.

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Ice Miller U.S. Senator Mark Kirk

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