On July 27, 2023, President Biden nominated Judge Joshua P. Kolar to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Kolar has been a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana since 2019. Judge Kolar also serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Judge Joshua Kolar was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1976. He graduated with a B.A. from Northwestern University in 1999 and a J.D. from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in 2003. In 2009, Judge Kolar was commissioned to the United States Navy Reserve. He continues to serve as a Lieutenant Commander.
After law school, Judge Kolar worked as an associate at Mayer Brown LLP for two years. His work included antitrust matters, criminal defense, internal investigations, civil RICO cases, and pro bono representation of indigent clients. From 2005-2006, Judge Kolar clerked for the Honorable Wayne R. Andersen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After clerking, Judge Kolar returned to Mayer Brown for a year, representing individuals and corporations in grand jury investigations and complex civil litigation as well as conducting internal investigations.
From 2007 to 2018, Judge Kolar worked for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana. He represented the United States in criminal matters including investigations and prosecutions of public corruption, terrorism-related offenses, sanctions violations, violent crimes, narcotics conspiracies, and firearms offenses. During this period, he secured more than a dozen jury verdicts and argued numerous cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
During his tenure as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Judge Kolar was also deployed to Afghanistan as a Navy Intelligence Officer for portions of 2014 and 2015. Upon returning to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he served as the National Security Lead and Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Coordinator, in which he managed all national security cases throughout the Northern District of Indiana. For example, in United States v. Elhassani, Judge Kolar successfully prosecuted the defendant for conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS after she and her husband traveled to Syria with their young children to join the terrorist organization.
In 2019, Judge Kolar was appointed to serve as a United States Magistrate Judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. In this role, he rules on dispositive motions and presides over trials in civil cases. In criminal cases, he reviews search and seizure warrants, presides over initial appearances and arraignments, and rules in detention and preliminary hearings as well as conducting final pretrial conferences. He also presides over the misdemeanor docket for the district court.
The following cases are representative of Judge Kolar’s judicial career:
- In Welborn v. Ethicon Inc., the plaintiff sued the defendant under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act (IMMA) after becoming paralyzed from the chest down after several major surgeries, arguing that healthcare professionals were negligent in his care. After the defendants moved the case from state court to federal court, the plaintiff sought to move the case back to state court. In his report and recommendation, Judge Kolar determined that the state court was the appropriate venue for the case based on the location of the parties and the applicable state and federal statutes. After receiving no objections, the district judge adopted Judge Kolar’s report and recommendation, moving the case back to state court.
- In Szany v. Garcia, Ms. Szany brought claims of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment under federal law against the city of Hammond, Indiana, where she served as a police officer, and state law tort claims against a former coworker. Judge Kolar issued multiple rulings throughout the course of discovery, including an opinion and order addressing the proper scope of discovery, a separate order regarding a dispute over the extent of redactions required, and a determination of whether documents were protected under attorney-client privilege. The presiding judge later dismissed the plaintiff’s federal employment discrimination claims as unsupported by the evidence and dropped the state law claims because the federal court did not have jurisdiction to proceed on state claims alone.
- In Leal v. TSA Stores, Inc. d/b/a The Sports Authority, et al, the plaintiff sued Sports Authority after she was injured in a bicycle accident for failing to properly inspect the bicycle before selling it to her husband. After conducting a settlement conference that yielded no results, Judge Kolar presided over pretrial motions and a jury trial on liability, as the parties agreed on the amount of damages before trial. The trial centered on whether the bicycle’s handlebars were adequately tightened and inspected prior to sale. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff. The defendant store initially moved for a mistrial but withdrew that motion in favor of a settlement agreement.
- United States v. Summit, Inc. began when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought an administrative action against Mr. Coulopoulos and his automobile scrap recycling company, Summit, Inc., for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act after failing to properly dispose of hazardous waste. Summit agreed to pay a $263,375 fine and pledged to undertake, document, and submit proof of compliance with applicable regulations. Subsequently the EPA found defendants did not comply with the terms of the agreement, neither paying the fine or submitting records of compliance. The government then sued the defendants and sought a default judgment when the defendants failed to respond in a timely manner. Judge Kolar issued a report detailing the claims against Mr. Coulopoulos and Summit, Inc. and recommended default judgment. The district court judge adopted Judge Kolar’s recommendations and ruled in favor of the EPA.
- In United States v. Beasley, the defendant, who had previously been convicted of a violent felony, was charged with illegally possessing a firearm. Following a contested bail hearing, Judge Kolar ordered that the defendant be detained pending trial. The defendant subsequently filed a motion to suppress evidence of firearm possession, alleging that the firearm was only found after the police conducted an unlawful search and seizure at a traffic stop. Judge Kolar held an evidentiary hearing and issued a report and recommendation denying the defendant’s motion to suppress the firearm on the grounds that the government had met its burden, establishing that the police had a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was armed during a routine traffic stop. The presiding judge adopted Judge Kolar’s report and ruled against the defendant. The defendant eventually pleaded guilty to the firearm charges.
- In Donald v. Outlaw, the plaintiff was convicted of robbery and murder by jury in 1992. His convictions were subsequently overturned and all charges dismissed. The plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit against two police officers involved in his prosecution and the City of Gary, Indiana, alleging due process violations connected to the investigation, prosecution, and conviction for crimes he did not commit. Judge Kolar ruled on multiple discovery disputes, including two motions to quash subpoenas, which involved arguments as to the proper standard of review under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Administrative Procedure Act. The presiding district judge upheld his rulings and the case remains pending.
Professional Activities and Accolades
Judge Kolar serves as Chair of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana’s Local Rules Committee.
The Department of Defense has honored Judge Kolar with multiple awards in recognition of his exemplary service, including the Joint Service Commendation Medal (2022), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2015), the Joint Meritorious Unit Award (2015), the Afghanistan Campaign Medal (2015), the Armed Forces Reserve Medal (2015), the Department of Defense, National Defense Service Medal (2009), and the Department of Defense, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (2009). Additionally, in 2015, he earned the Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s International Security Assistance Force Medal.