Judge Doris Pryor, who has served as a federal magistrate judge on the Southern District of Indiana for the past five years, has been tapped for an appellate judgeship on the Seventh Circuit.
Born in Hope, Arkansas, Pryor attended the University of Central Arkansas, getting a B.Sc. in 1999. She continued on to Indiana University Maurer School of Law, getting her J.D. in 2003.
After graduating law school, Pryor clerked for Judge Lavenski Smith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and for Judge J. Leon Holmes on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Pryor then spent a year as a public defender in Arkansas before becoming a federal prosecutor with the Southern District of Indiana.
In 2017, Pryor was appointed to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
History of the Seat
Pryor has been nominated for an Indiana seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. This seat opened when Judge David Hamilton indicated his intention to take senior status upon confirmation of a successor.
Other than a year as a public defender, Pryor has spent her entire career pre-bench as a federal prosecutor in Southern Indiana.
Among the notable cases she has handled, Pryor has handled a number of appeals before the Seventh Circuit. See United States v. Hawkins, 480 F.3d 476 (7th Cir. 2007). For example, Pryor unsuccessfully sought to defend an Armed Career Criminal Act enhancement for a defendant convicted of felon in possession. United States v. Smith, 544 F.3d 781 (7th Cir. 2008). In another case that Pryor presented to the Seventh Circuit, the court remanded for further fact-finding on a Batson challenge after the only two African American jurors on a venire were struck. See United States v. Rutledge, 648 F.3d 555 (7th Cir. 2011).
Pryor has a single political contribution to her name, to Indiana gubernatorial candidate John Gregg in 2016.
Jurisprudence & Reversals
Since 2017, Pryor has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Indianapolis. In this role, she presides over settlement, preliminary hearings, bail, and any cases where the parties consent to her jurisdiction. Among the notable cases that Pryor has handled as a magistrate, she denied a motion by attorneys for the City of Indianapolis to strike expert testimony brought by a plaintiff who was attacked by a police dog while sitting in his backyard. See Mitchum v. City of Indianapolis, 534 F. Supp. 3d 1001 (S.D. Ind. 2021). In another case, she granted a defense motion to strike the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert, an oncologist who sought to discuss the standard of care in radiology. Lyons v. United States, 550 F. Supp. 3d 588 (S.D. Ind. 2021).
Judge Pryor enters the confirmation process with the support of Sen. Todd Young, one of Indiana’s Republican senators. This support should go a long way in smoothing the road for her, even if Indiana’s other senator, Sen. Michael Braun, chooses to oppose her.
As such, barring the unexpected, it is likely that Judge Pryor will be confirmed in the next few months.