URBANA — The White House has nominated a career federal prosecutor from Savoy to fill the judicial seat that will become open when U.S. District Court Judge Michael McCuskey takes senior status this summer.
But assuming the U.S. Senate agrees that Colin Bruce should get that job, it could be a while before he can hear the kind of cases he knows best — criminal — because he would have to recuse himself from cases that started under his watch.
Bruce, 47, has been an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District since his graduation from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1989. He has prosecuted drug conspiracies, computer-related investigations, frauds and civil matters.
Since 2010, Bruce has been the first assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District, supervising attorneys in all the offices of the district. While his duties are mostly administrative, he still goes to court.
An older brother to former University of Illinois trustee and Chicago attorney Devon Bruce, and nephew to former 19th District Congressman Terry Bruce, a Democrat from Olney, Colin Bruce is married and has two children.
Bruce was recommended to the president by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Christina Mulkin, a spokeswoman for Durbin, said there is no way to put a timeline on the confirmation process.
"Once the papers are submitted, the names go to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review. The senators have a chance to submit questions. Nominees can answer the questions, and they have a hearing. Once they have a hearing, they have about a week ... to take a vote within committee on whether the nominee goes forward. Once that happens, it gets put on the Senate calendar and could be put up for a vote any time," she said.
Bruce's name should be familiar to members of the committee who have been around at least three years. In February 2010, the White House submitted Bruce as one of four candidates for two judgeships in the Central District that ultimately went to Sue Myerscough and James Shadid in March 2011.
McCuskey was nominated by President Bill Clinton in late July 1997, but not confirmed by the Senate until April 2, 1998.
Although McCuskey will be on senior status, meaning he can work as much or as little as he likes, he has promised to stick around "to make sure I clean up the criminal docket."
"I would be the only person here to clean up the docket because Judge Harold Baker doesn't do criminal cases," said McCuskey, who said his current caseload is greater than at any other time in his judicial career.
"I'm only going to do this for some time. I haven't promised anybody anything past 2014," he said.