After a three year vacancy on the federal court bench, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted last week to confirm the nomination of John Dowdell as federal judge of Oklahoma's Northern District.

Although Ardmore and the surrounding area are part of Oklahoma's Eastern District, with the court located at Muskogee, Dowdell does have local ties. Fr. Tom Dowdell, pastor of Parish of St. Mary Catholic Church, is the new judge's brother.

The Ardmore priest said he was delighted by his brother's 95-0 confirmation.

"I was the oldest and he was the youngest of five children. We grew up in a working-class family in Tulsa. Our parents and family were devout Catholics with a strong sense of social justice and love for country," Fr. Dowdell said.

"Being the youngest child, I always thought he got away with much more than his older siblings. He was bright and athletic with a quick wit and a gift of gab. And, so, it came as no surprise that he entered law school. He is the father of four sons and a great addition to my family."

Dowdell had been a partner in the private practice of Norman Wohlgemuth Chandler & Dowdell in Tulsa since 1983. His legal specialities were listed as complex litigation and appellate litigation. However, he also served as indigent defense attorney and as a pro bono adjunct settlement judge for the local court.