Durbin Expands Bipartisan Screening Committee; Calls for Applications for Two Vacant Federal Judgeships in Central Illinois

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today announced the names of two new members to serve on a bipartisan screening committee to assist in selecting Federal District Court Judges for the Central District of Illinois. Durbin has asked small business owner and attorney, J. Victor Malkovich of Champaign and Macon County Assistant State's Attorney, Ruth Waller to serve on the Central Illinois Judicial Screening Panel.


There are two federal judgeships in central Illinois that are now, or soon will become, vacant. Judges Michael Mihm and Jeanne Scott announced their intention to retire earlier this summer. Today’s expansion of the Central District screening panel was needed to deal with the anticipated number of applications for those positions.


“I am pleased to announce the names of two people who will make fine additions to the Central Illinois screening panel,” said Durbin. “Making recommendations to the White House for federal judicial nominees is one of the most important jobs I have as a U.S. Senator, and I want to make sure we have highly qualified applicants for these posts and highly qualified individuals to review those applications.”


In April of this year, Durbin formed three screening committees for the state – one for the Northern District; one for the Southern District and one for the Central District. Former federal judge and Illinois Congressman Abner Mikva chairs the Northern District Screening Panel; Sheila Simon, SIU law professor and daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon, chairs the Southern District Screening Panel and prominent Springfield attorney James Potter serves as chairman of the Central District Screening Panel. The screening committees are comprised of a number of distinguished Illinoisans drawn from various aspects of the legal profession and include former judges, prominent litigators, law professors, bar association leaders, former prosecutors and defenders.


Durbin, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, is the senior senator from Illinois. The senior senator from the President’s political party has traditionally had the lead role in making recommendations to the President for the positions of Federal District Court Judge, U.S. Attorney, and U.S. Marshal in the senator’s home state. Similar screening panels were used during the Clinton Presidency.


The immediate task of the Central Illinois screening committee is to review applications and make recommendations to Senator Durbin for two Federal District Court Judge positions in the Central District.


Applications for these positions are available on Senator Durbin’s website (https://www.durbin.senate.gov/applications_judicial.cfm). The application questionnaire is nearly identical to that used by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will help provide insight into potential nominees’ backgrounds and qualifications. The deadline for submission of completed applications is November 2, 2009.


The screening committee will review the applications, interview applicants and references, and make recommendations to Senator Durbin as quickly as possible. The screening committee will recommend the names of several individuals to Senator Durbin for each vacancy.


Durbin will review the screening committee’s recommendations, conduct interviews of finalists, and – in consultation with members of the Illinois Congressional delegation – submit his recommendations to the President, who will make the final decisions on nominees.


Once the President submits a nomination to the U.S. Senate, the nominee will be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Durbin is a member and will ultimately receive a vote in the committee. If a nomination is approved by the Judiciary Committee, the nominee will receive a vote by the full Senate.


The average length of time between date of nomination and date of confirmation for Federal District Court Judge nominees is approximately six months.


Biographical descriptions of the new members of the screening panels named by Senator Durbin include:


New Central District Committee Members


Ruth Waller. Ms. Waller serves as an Assistant State's Attorney in Macon County. Previously she worked for over two decades as a litigator at the law firm of Johnson, Waller & Chiligiris in Decatur. She has been the vice president of the Springfield Coalition of Black Attorneys and president of her local YWCA, and has served on the boards of numerous institutions and organizations including Southern Illinois University law school, Millikin University, the Decatur Mental Health Center, Comprehensive Youth Services, and Planned Parenthood.


J. Victor Malkovich. Mr. Malkovich is a small business owner and attorney in the Champaign-Urbana area. He has worked in the financial services and employee benefits field for over 30 years. He has been an advocate for developmentally disabled individuals and has served on the boards of Prairie Homes, Inc., C-U Independence, and Developmental Services Center.





Existing Central District Committee Members


James Potter (chair). Mr. Potter is a partner at the law firm of Londrigan, Potter & Randle and is past president of the Springfield chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He is on the board of trustees of Knox College and the Springfield YMCA, and he serves on the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Illinois Capital Region, Prairie State Bank & Trust, and Farmers State Bank & Trust of Fulton County.


Clarence Darrow. Mr. Darrow has his own law practice in Rock Island. He previously served as a Circuit Court Judge for the State of Illinois in the 14th Judicial Circuit and was chief judge of the domestic relations division. Prior to his judicial service, he was elected to the Illinois State Senate and Illinois House of Representatives.


Robert Eggers. Mr. Eggers served as a Circuit Court Judge and Associate Judge for the State of Illinois in the 7th Judicial Circuit for over 17 years. He previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of Illinois, a prosecutor in the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s office, and president of the Sangamon County Bar Association.


Donald Jackson. Mr. Jackson has his own law practice in Peoria. He previously worked as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and the Peoria County Public Defender, and he has been an instructor at Bradley University. Mr. Jackson serves as president of the Peoria branch of the NAACP and president of the NAACP Illinois State Conference.


Stacey Lynch. Ms. Lynch is an attorney at the Dorris Law Firm in Bloomington, where she specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice. She is active in numerous bar associations and is a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.


Lucinda Awerkamp McClain. Ms. McClain is a partner at the Quincy law firm of Awerkamp & McClain, where she has worked for over 30 years. She has served as director of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation and director of the Large District Council of the Illinois Association of School Boards. She has served as board president or member of many community organizations including Quincy University, the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area, Quincy Public Library, and the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce.