Matthew Brookman – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Longtime magistrate judge Matthew Brookman is Biden’s first nominee to the federal district court bench in Indiana.

Background

The 54-year-old Brookman received his B.A. from DePauw University in Indiana in 1990 and a J.D. from the Washington University School of Law in 1993. He then spent a year with Brown & James in St. Louis before becoming a prosecutor with Jefferson County, Missouri.

In 1997, Brookman returned to private practice to the firm of Herzog, Crebs & McGhee. In 1999, Brookman became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri. In 2002, he shifted to become a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.

Since 2016, Brookman has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

History of the Seat

Brookman has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, to a seat to be vacated by Judge Richard Young, who will take senior status upon confirmation of a successor.

Legal Experience

Brookman started his legal career in St. Louis at Brown & James but then shifted to Jefferson County, Missouri to be a prosecutor. Among the cases he handled there, Brookman prosecuted Nancy Montplaisir for stealing money from the Ambulance District. See Monte Reel, Woman Guilty of Theft; Ex-Secretary Claimed Boss Made Her Take $16800 from Ambulance District, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr. 14, 1997. He also prosecuted Donald Roberts for the murder of Christopher McLafferty as part of a road rage incident. See Monte Reel, Jury Finds Man Guilty in Murder at Highway 141 Stoplight Last Year, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 29, 1997. Roberts was sentenced to four consecutive life terms. See Robert Kelly, Affton Man Gets 4 Life Terms in Fatal Fight Alongside Road, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 23, 1997.

Between 1997 and 1999, Brookman worked on civil cases at Herzog, Crebs & McGhee P.C. See, e.g., Dorsey v. SEKISUI America Corp., 79 F. Supp. 2d 1089 (E.D. Mo. 1999).

In 1999, Brookman became a federal prosecutor in Missouri and, in 2002, shifted to Evansville, Indiana. While in Missouri, Brookman prosecuted Rodney Hollis for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. See United States v. Hollis, 245 F.3d 671 (8th Cir. 2001). In Indiana, Brookman prosecuted individuals connected with a crime spree conducted by Jarvis Brown that led to multiple deaths and injuries. See Hogsett Praises Assistant United States Attorney from Evansville, Targeted News Service, Feb. 1, 2011. His work on the case led to Brookman receiving a Department of Justice award. See id.

Judicial Experience

Since 2016, Brookman has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Indiana. In this role, he presides by consent over civil matters and misdemeanors, assists district judges with discovery and settlement, and writes reports and recommendations on legal issues.

In his capacity, Brookman has ruled on a number of appeals from denial of social security benefits. On appeal, some of his rulings affirming the denial of benefits were overturned by the Seventh Circuit. In one case, a Seventh Circuit panel overruled Brookman’s affirmance in a per curiam opinion, finding that the administrative judge erred in not consulting a medical expert regarding MRI evidence. See McHenry v. Berryhill, 911 F.3d 866 (7th Cir. 2018). In another case, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the plaintiff that the administrative judge improperly made adverse credibility determinations against him. See Ray v. Berryhill, 915 F.3d 486 (7th Cir. 2019).

In another opinion, Biden appointee Candance Jackson-Akiwumi reversed Brookman’s grant of summary judgment to a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). See Watters v. Homeowners’ Ass’n, 48 F.4th 779 (7th Cir. 2022). Jackson-Akiwaumi wrote for the panel majority in reversing the dismissal of a Fair Housing and 1982 claim on behalf of an African American couple alleging racial discrimination. See id. Judge Amy St. Eve dissented, arguing that she would affirm Brookman’s ruling because there was no nexus between discrimination faced by the plaintiffs and a legally cognizable adverse employment action. See id. at 790 (St. Eve, J., dissenting).

Overall Assessment

As a well-credential juror, Brookman has a relatively uncontroversial background. Additionally, he has received favorable reviews from Sen. Todd Young. However, as long as the blue slip policy remains in effect, Brookman’s nomination turns on whether Sen. Mike Braun returns a blue slip. Given the fact that the nomination was submitted to the Senate, I expect that Brookman should be confirmed easily.

31 Comments

  1. Brookman is a very traditional nominee. I’m surprised that Mike Braun hasn’t made a decision yet on the blue slip. I expect that he will. Perhaps he’s awaiting a decision on other vacancies.

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  2. Not an ideal nominee, but pretty much what we should expect for a red state District vacancy over the next two years. In any case, he doesn’t appear to be to the right of Richard Young so it’s at the very least a maintenance of the status quo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wonder if Braun is waiting to see who Biden nominated for the 7th Circuit vacancy before returning his blue slip for Brookman.
    I’ve seen that speculation in KS being a possible reason Wamble’s nomination has been held up but I don’t buy that, as I don’t see BIden and company letting a district court seat determine who they fill for Circuit Court seats.
    There has to be something behind the scenes we don’t know about but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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  4. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/01/25/2023/nominations
    The nominees for tomorrow’s hearing are out.
    As we suspected, it’s all district court nominees and it includes Brookman and the two New Jersey nominees(one of them will fill a judicial emergency.)
    From what I’ve seen it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing confirmations until February but once it starts, we should see a lot of them being confirmed in a short amount of time.

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    • Good to see five nominees for tomorrow but of course I would tether six or at least Wamble. I too have seen a range of speculation as to why Wamble’s name hasn’t been resubmitted yet but none of them are his nomination is dead. Most speculate it has something to do with a possible package deal for the vacant US Attorney & district court seat.

      Now I’m still waiting on I see the composition of the SJC. The website still has Leahy & Sasse listed as members.

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      • While I’m certainly no Republican, I don’t see how they can grant Cruz a waiver while telling Schmit no. That’s the problem with waivers. If you do it for one, the next person is going to want you to do it for them. Either have the rule or get rid of the rule. I said the same thing for the Defense Secretary. Your supposed to be a civilian for a certain number of years yet both President Trump & Biden got a waiver for their first ones. Just get rid of the rule if your just gonna approve waivers anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s pretty hard to listen to any GOP senator complain about nepotism when they didn’t say a word for 4 years while Trump employed his daughter & son in law. At the end of the day no matter what the senators feel, that nor blue slips shouldn’t stop any Biden circuit court nominee just like it didn’t stop any of the 54 Trump judges. Biden giving in & reversing course would be waving the white flag when it comes to circuit court vacancies in red states going forward.

        They held the line for Andre Mathis & need to continue without so much as flinching. Biden needs to fill 13 more circuit court vacancies to pass Trump. This 11th circuit has been vacant 681 days & counting. That’s enough time to put a man on the Moon. The home state senators have been consulted in good faith. It’s time Biden sends Wambles name to the senate & he gets confirmed in the coming months.

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  5. Two interesting things I found from the SJC questionnaires for tomorrow’s nominees.

    Robert Kirsch first applies for a district court seat back in December 2014. Obama was president then so interesting he tried under two different Democrat presidents despite him being a Republican.

    Matthew Brookman spoke with staffers from Congressman Andre Carson office before he spoke to either Republican senator about the vacancy.

    (https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Kirsch%20SJQ%20Public%20Final.pdf)

    (https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Brookman%20SJQ%20Public.pdf)

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  6. Here’s my recap from todays’s SJC hearing;

    Senator Durbin started off encouraging Republican senators to work in good faith & talked about blue slips. Senator Graham agreed & said “elections have consequences”.

    Senators Menendez & Booker praisedRobert Kirch without mentioning he’s a Republican. He was more impressive then I expected I must say but of course everybody knows how I feel about him being nominated in a deep blue state so I won’t rehash it.

    Senator Kennedy grilled judge Bjelkengren hard. She was unable to answer any of his three questions & he was frustrated. He openly disagreed with one of Orelia Merchant’s answers. He also quizzed the others who gave better answers.

    Senator Blackburn questioned Bjelkengren & Merchant’s experience (Or in her words lack of experience) in federal court.

    All of their pictures have been uploaded on Wikipedia. On a side note, I’ve been working with the office of the SJC to get some of the older hearings loaded on the website so I can make sure each have pictures on their Wikipedia pages. I have requested two more older hearings to be uploaded. Every Biden & Trump judge has pictures & all but three Obama judges have pictures. Once they upload the final two hearings I requested I will add pictures for Denzil Price Marshall Jr., Kristine Anne Gerhard Baker &George Levi Russell III. All but three active circuit court judges have pictures as well regardless of the president that nominated them.

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  7. Today’s Hearing

    Glad we’re back!

    The exact make up and membership of the committee is still unknown. But I hope most non-SCOTUS hearings are under 90 minutes like today’s. Also, I hope the GOP caucus rejects Sen. Schmitt’s waiver request. One bloviating Missourian on the panel is enough.

    Bjelkengren flunked Sen. Kennedy’s LSAT test, as is usually the case with most nominees. No one will hold it against her for not remembering what Article V of the Constitution is. But I was surprised that she couldn’t recall what Article II is. She was literally sitting there due to an Article II action.

    A downside *for* Graham taking over as ranking member is he’ll have to show up for most of the meetings. He’s skipped most, if not all, non-SCOTUS executive/business meetings for the past few years. I guess he’s OK with that.

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  8. The debate over Schmitt is leading me to the believe the new SJC will be 12-11 instead of 11-10. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much to debate.

    I wonder which 2 Ds Schumer/Durbin would look to add to the committee.

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  9. I saw the hearings and a couple of the nominees did get grilled hard but at this point, it’s theater and everyone knows it.
    I don’t see any nominee failing to get confirmed now that we have an outright majority, even with Manchin and Sinema.

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  10. Pleasing:

    The makeup/membership list should be imminent.

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    • Haaaaa… Did he really think he was gonna kick off another senior senator that’s been see once for years so he can join the SJC with one month on the job? I thought he was trying to add another member for each party to the SJC (Which also would be insane because they need to reduce the members as it is). These new MAGA Republicans really need a reality check.

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    • It was initially said they would not have to be held over tomorrow. Then a few other users corrected that & said per committee rules they would need to be held over for a week if any committee member request it. It doesn’t look like any nominees will be confirmed before February.

      By my count there are seven nominees that have been waiting more than a year since they were first announced. Hopefully after this backlog is caught up, that will be the last time any nominee has to wait that long the rest of Biden’s first term, barring any change in the senate composition between now & then of course.

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    • If there are enough applicants for, yes, but if you follow the history, you find that each vacancy has about ten or a little more applicants, and three of them are recommended to the WH, and the pool of applicants is almost completely the same one, many of them have already been recommended for one or more times, roughly half of the applicants are magistrate judges of the Superior Court. Hence when they are really appointed, the pool is shrinking, and there are still 8 slots open, beside the 2 judges leaving in February, Todd Edelman will also soon be elevated to the District Court, so half of the six recently confirmed judges are already gone on short term and just Adrienne Noti pending as candidate. So my opinion here is once again, that the priority is, that the court is running, that posts are not really attractive one, as you can see at the fact, that most judges don’t serve out their 15 year term, William Nooter was appointed in December 2015 and will resign a little more than 7 years later. The Judicial Nominations Commission does always deal with the same candidates, and the progress is slow, that’s an annoying job, I would say.

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  11. It’s now just fine that tomorrows meeting is all hold overs, since there’s zero chance of new committee assignments until next week it appears. Nominees would just tie again. Schmitt seems to have been an idiot and only wanted Judiciary and now that he’s failed he needs to resubmit his preferences.
    They should have just punished his challenge to seniority and just given him the dregs of whatever’s left.

    https://rollcall.com/2023/01/25/schmitt-denied-waiver-to-serve-on-senate-judiciary/

    Liked by 1 person

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