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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ind. Courts - Gary-based child support court move to Crown Point reignites controversy

Bill Dolan's NWI Times story on Jan. 29th reported:

CROWN POINT | The Lake Juvenile Court judge is moving her Gary-based child support court to Crown Point next week and reigniting a debate about the benefits of consolidating local government versus the cost of removing government facilities from the county's urban core.

Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, complained Tuesday the transfer will inconvenience thousands of north county residents who now will have to travel 20 additional miles to use it.

"That is very unfair," Allen said.

He represents Gary on the Lake County Board of Commissioners, which oversees the main county government complex in Crown Point and smaller satellite courthouses in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.

Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura said Tuesday that centralizing the court makes its operations more user-friendly for her staff and presents no difficulty for the public, who easily access the many other county courtrooms already in Crown Point.

The court in question will close its Gary doors Friday [Feb. 1st] and will resume hearings only in Crown Point. * * *

Its transfer comes a decade after Bonaventura moved the bulk of her staff out of the Justice Robert D. Rucker county courthouse at Fourth Avenue and Broadway in Gary, complaining that building was in disrepair.

Gary and county officials so resisted that move, Bonaventura had to win a mandate forcing them to finance her $23 million Juvenile Justice Complex near 93rd Avenue and Chase Street, which opened in 2002.

Bonaventura kept her IV-D court in Gary, but a rise in child support cases required her to open a second IV-D court in Crown Point in 2010.

"As time has gone on, we have had a higher rate of appearance in the IV-D court in Crown Point than we do in the Gary court. But adding the second court has created confusion for some people, including lawyers, about which court they are supposed to be in, here or there," Bonaventura said.

Bonaventura said she will retain other staff in the Gary courthouse who conduct DNA testing for her court's paternity cases. She said no one is losing their jobs.

Today a story by NWI Times correspondent Lu Ann Franklin reporting:
CROWN POINT | The NAACP filed a petition Friday in the Lake Circuit Court for a temporary restraining order to prevent Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura from moving the Gary-based child support court to Crown Point.

“We are asking the court for an immediate temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and then a permanent injunction,” NAACP attorney Barbara Bolling said.

Plaintiffs in the petition include the NAACP, the cities of Gary and East Chicago along with two residents of Gary and Hammond who use the Gary-based court.

“We are alleging that to move the court would work a severe, if not irreparable, hardship on citizens from Gary, East Chicago, Hammond and Whiting because we do not have an extensive public transportation system that serves low-income or no-income residents,” Bolling said.

ILB: Judge Bonaventura was appointed Jan. 30th by Governor Pence to serve as the Director of the State Department of Child Services. The ILB has seen no information on when she will resign from the bench and assume her new role.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 2, 2013 06:17 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts | Indiana Government