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Senior U.S. District Court Judge Rodolfo "Rudy" Lozano is being remembered Thursday as a jurist with a heart.

Lozano, 76, of East Chicago, died early Wednesday "with his family at his side," said Roy Dominguez, a fellow attorney and longtime friend of the judge.

"He was a kind and thoughtful individual and a dedicated family man. He was a mentor to me," Dominguez said.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Sal Vazquez said Thursday afternoon he remembered Lozano's demeanor from the bench. "He was a real gentleman. He was a good and fair judge. I model what I do based on how I saw him treat other people."

Lozano was born in 1942 and graduated from East Chicago Washington High School. He received a bachelor's degree in 1963 and law degree in 1966 from Indiana University. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1966 to 1973 and was in private practice from 1966 to 1988 when he assumed the bench.

President Ronald Reagan nominated Lozano to the federal court Dec. 4, 1987, to fill a seat vacated by Michael S. Kanne. The U.S. Senate confirmed Lozano's judicial appointment Feb. 25, 1988. He went into semi-retirement and assumed senior judicial status in 2007, according to the Federal Judicial Center's website.

Dominguez said Lozano was the first Hispanic federal judge in Indiana. The Hispanic Bar Association recently gave Lozano its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dominguez said Lozano was lead counsel for the area law firm of Spangler, Jennings and Dougherty of Merrillville. He said Lozano concentrated his work in civil litigation, including medical malpractice cases. "He had many jury trials and he never lost a case," Dominguez said.

Thomas Vanes, a veteran former deputy prosecutor, defense lawyer and a former Lowell town judge, said, "He also came into Lake Criminal Court and won a murder case, which put him in a very select group."

Vanes said he recalled being involved in a trial before Lozano in the old federal courthouse on Hammond's State Street. "We were waiting on a verdict and I was talking with some court officials when Judge Lozano walked up, turned a waste can upside down to sit on and shot the breeze with us.

"I found him to be unpretentious and someone who enjoyed the human interaction of the court," Vanes said.

Attorney Steven J. Sersic, president of the Lake County Bar Association, said, "The law profession has lost a fine jurist."

U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch II said Wednesday, "Our deepest condolences go to Judge Lozano’s family and the entire federal court family on this great loss. Judge Lozano was a great judge, and a great person. He will be truly missed."

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.