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Hoosier making history as first Hispanic Federal Magistrate Judge in southern district of Indiana

Mario Garcia was appointed to the bench in 2021
Judge Mario Garcia.JPG
Posted at 12:41 PM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 18:17:10-04

Mario Garcia still remembers his time at Greenbriar Elementary in Indianapolis.

Among his earliest childhood memories are this photograph of him standing in front of the school sign with his name on it.

His education would take him from Washington Township schools, to Ball State University, to Indiana University School of Law which led to his arrival on the federal courthouse.

"It's very humbling, " said Judge Garcia.

Judge Garcia met with us in one of the federal courtrooms in downtown Indianapolis.

"While we didn't have another member of the Hispanic community on the bench. I didn't see that as a limitation or a ceiling that I couldn't break through."

That breakthrough came on April 5th 2021. Garcia was sworn-in as a Magistrate Judge for the U-S District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

This doesn't happen often, and this time--it was first time a person of Hispanic Heritage in the southern district would be sitting on the federal bench.

"If you can't see it, you can't be it. "

"Being able to represent just one of the many cultures in our community, I'm happy to do, but anyone can serve in this capacity if you have the right experience, the right dedication, the right commitment to justice and representing the bench in a favorable and impartial manner--certainly anyone can obtain this job."

Born in Bloomington, he's also proud of his mother's European roots and his father's Mexican roots.

A cultural connection that has served as a road map on his life's journey.

"Hard work matters and it’s what I learned from them and my greater family.

Garcia was in private practice for more than two decades before being selected as magistrate.

As a lawyer, he spent years providing free legal services to those facing federal criminal charges. It's an experience he believes helps him as a judge.

"It helps me get a little insight into where that individual may be coming from and help offer some thoughts or opinions about where they stand based on my experience. Maybe just gives me a little bit of credibility in their eyes."

He adds “The quicker we can bring parties justice that's the whole goal here is to bring justice quicker, sooner, efficiently and fairly."

As a magistrate judge, Garcia's position is up for review every 8 years by the federal judges on the Southern District.