Durbin Forwards Recommendations for Federal Judges in the Southern District to White House

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Based on recommendations made by a bipartisan screening committee, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today forwarded a list of names to the White House for consideration when filling vacant judgeships on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.  Durbin forwarded the names of the following five individuals – George A. Norwood, Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Stephen Stone, Lisa M. Wood and Staci M. Yandle – to President Obama for consideration for filling judicial vacancies in the district.


“Each of these well-qualified individuals would make an outstanding nominee for federal district court judge if selected by the President,” said Durbin.  “One of my most important responsibilities of a U.S. Senator is making recommendations to the White House on federal judges in Illinois.  The bipartisan team I assembled to evaluate and recommend applicants did an incredible job. After meeting personally with the recommended applicants, I am honored to forward these five names to President Obama.  


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. It has been announced that a judicial vacancy will open up in the Southern District in December.


During the Clinton Presidency, Durbin worked closely with Senator Peter Fitzgerald to ensure that highly qualified candidates for federal judgeships were recommended to the President with bipartisan support in order to secure their confirmation.  Before making recommendations to President Obama, Durbin consulted with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).


Durbin’s screening committee was comprised of comprised of 6 distinguished Illinoisans drawn from various aspects of the legal profession.  The committee was co-chaired by Lois Wood, Executive Director of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, and the Honorable George W. Timberlake (ret.), former chief judge of the Illinois Second Judicial Circuit.


The screening committee reviewed the applications, interviewed applicants and references, and recommended the names of several individuals to Durbin.   Durbin reviewed the screening committee’s recommendations, conducted interviews of the finalists, and – in consultation with Senator Kirk – submitted 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. 


Biographical descriptions of those recommended by Durbin today follow (all names are listed in alphabetical order):


George A. Norwood – Mr. Norwood has worked since 1998 as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Illinois, serving in the U.S. Attorney’s Benton office.  He previously worked for three years at the firm Ice Miller Donadio & Ryan in Indianapolis.  He has served as an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he also worked as Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs from 1997-1998.   He graduated from Roosevelt University and Southern Illinois University School of Law, and after law school he served as a law clerk to Judge Robert L. Miller of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. 


Nancy J. Rosenstengel – Ms. Rosenstengel currently serves as the Clerk of Court for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, a position she has held since 2009.  She previously served as a law clerk to Judge Patrick Murphy of the Southern District of Illinois for 11 years.  She has also worked for five years in private practice at Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard in St. Louis.  She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University School of Law.  Ms. Rosenstengel lives in Belleville. 


Stephen Stone – Mr. Stone is currently a partner at Howerton, Dorris & Stone in Marion, where he has worked since 2001.  He previously worked as an associate at Harris, Lambert, Howerton & Dorris in Marion and at Brandon & Schmidt in Carbondale.  He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he has taught as an adjunct professor.  After law school, he worked as a law clerk for Justice Robert Howerton of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fifth District.  Mr. Stone lives in Carterville. 


Lisa M. Wood – Ms. Wood has worked since 2012 as the Assistant Vice Chancellor & Associate General Counsel at Washington University in St. Louis.  Previously she worked for 23 years as a partner and associate at Armstrong Teasdale LLP in St. Louis.  She graduated from Saint Louis University and the Saint Louis University School of Law, where she served as managing editor of the law journal.  Ms. Wood lives in Belleville. 


Staci M. Yandle – Ms. Yandle has owned her own practice, the Law Offices of Staci M. Yandle, in O’Fallon since 2007.  Previously she worked for four years at The Rex Carr Law Firm and for 16 years at Carr, Korein, Tillery, both in East St. Louis.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation, and she also taught for nearly a decade as an adjunct professor at the St. Louis University Law School.  She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Vanderbilt University School of Law.  Ms. Yandle lives in Carlyle.