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First judge of Hispanic heritage sworn in to serve Southern District of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indiana native is taking a step forward for Hispanics in the legal system. He’s the first judge of Hispanic heritage to serve the Southern District of Indiana.

United States Magistrate Judge Mario Garcia was formally sworn in making history in the Hoosier state.

“It does not lay softly on my shoulders that I am the first of Hispanic heritage to serve in the Southern District of Indiana as a federal judge,” Garcia said.

Judge Garcia was selected by the District Judges of the court to fill a newly created magistrate judgeship.

Born in Bloomington, Garcia studied law at Indiana University School of Law where he graduated in 1999. Garcia is a 1995 graduate of Ball State University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and criminology.

For a decade, Garcia provided pro bono services to participants in the District Court’s Re-Entry and Community Help Program, which helps people re-entering society after arrest find housing and employment.

His mom is Polish and his dad is Mexican. Both inspired him to work hard.

“He was a migrant farm worker growing up and I’m very proud of his work, and he went to college eventually at Indiana University,” Garcia said.

“My mother’s Polish side of the family, her father, my grandfather, was an immigrant from Poland and at a very young age was working at the Studebaker factory in South Bend, Indiana,” Garcia said.

He says he hopes to inspire others to never give up on their dreams.

“I don’t know that I can say. I’m not paving the way yet, but certainly I’m another step forward and I think most importantly I’m an example to younger men and women who may want to become lawyers some day, who may think about a career as a judge, and there’s a saying that we use often. ‘If you can’t see it, you may not be able to be it,’ and so I’m glad that they can see it,” Garcia said. “I’m glad that they think hopefully that that they can be it because I’m a testament to the fact that with an education, hard work, perseverance, and dedication, you can be a judge, too.”

“I hope that everyone knows that when they come before this bench, equal justice is a virtue that we all believe in. We may have a difference of opinion on what the facts and the evidence ultimately show, but you always will get a fair shake in this courthouse,” Garcia said.