O’Fallon attorney Staci Yandle has been nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois (SDIL).
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Yandle will be the first African-American judge to serve in the SDIL. She will also be the first openly gay judge to serve in the Seventh Circuit, according to reporting in Politico and the Huffington Post.
Calls made to Yandle have not been returned.
She will replace U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert who presides at the federal courthouse in Benton. Gilbert is taking senior status on March 15.
Yandle had previously been considered for a vacancy that was created in the East St. Louis office of the SDIL upon the retirement of U.S. District Judge Patrick Murphy in December.
Nancy Rosenstengel, Clerk at the SDIL, was nominated for that position and her confirmation remains pending. Rosenstengel was the first woman nominated to the bench in the SDIL.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced Yandle's nomination on Jan. 16.
“Staci Yandle is an excellent candidate for the federal bench in Southern Illinois,” said Durbin. “She will bring a wealth of knowledge and litigation experience to the position.”
Durbin spokesperson Christina Mulka said she could not comment on how or whether Yandle's sexuality factored into her nomination. She said that a bi-partisan screening committee conducts very extensive interviews with applicants. Those who are recommended by the committee are recognized for their merit, she said.
Yandle has operated the Law Offices of Staci M. Yandle in O’Fallon since 2007.
In the last six months, she has filed at least three wrongful death complaints against local businesses including Alton Memorial Hospital, Knights Club and a Belleville nursing home.
She has contributed to local and regional candidates, mostly Democratic, since at least 2002.
In the 2012 campaign cycle, she contributed $2,427.20 to the Fifth District Appellate Court campaign of Judy Cates, who was elected in a race against Republican Steve McGlynn.
She also contributed to the campaigns of competitors Zina Cruse, Democrat ($2,500), and Laninya Cason ($1,000), Republican, who sought election as St. Clair County circuit judge. Cruse won.
Yandle had worked for four years at the Rex Carr Law Firm and for 16 years at Carr Korein and Tillery.
She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation. She taught as an adjunct professor for nearly a decade at St. Louis University School of Law.
A graduate of the University of Illinois and Vanderbilt University School of Law, Yandle resides in Carlyle.
After 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.