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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ind. Courts -"Magistrates sue their judicial bosses over Lake Juvenile Court succession"

The battle continues over who will fill the Lake County juvenile court vacancy created by Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura decision to accept the position offered by Gov. Pence to becomechief of the state Child Services Agency.

Bill Dolan has the report here today in the NWI Times:

CROWN POINT | Three Lake Juvenile Court magistrates are suing to stop Lake Superior Judge Nicholas Schiralli from becoming the next Lake County juvenile judge this month.

Magistrates Glenn Commons, Jeffery Miller and Charlotte Peller, who have been serving as judicial assistants for two decades, are asking the Indiana Supreme Court to give them the chance to apply for the job outgoing Lake Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura leaves to become head of the Indiana Department of Child Services in Indianapolis.

Bonaventura said Sunday will be her last day as judge.

Kathryn Dolan, spokeswoman for the high court, said the Supreme Court clerk's office received a copy of an "original action" filed late Wednesday by "Glenn Commons et al," but the paperwork still was being processed and a public copy wasn't available. ** *

The Times obtained a copy of a Verified Emergency Petition for Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition naming all 16 Lake Superior Court judges and the Lake Circuit Court judge as defendants.

It asks the high court to block all sitting Lake judges from filling the juvenile court vacancy until the high court rules whether state law is being circumvented and the judgeship is being wrongfully usurped.

Lake is one of the few counties in the state where judges are picked through merit selection. A nine-member panel of lawyers and lay people interview applicants, narrow them to three finalists and forward their names to Gov. Mike Pence.

The governor then appoints the new judge, who would serve for about two years before voters chose whether to retain or replace the judicial appointee.

However, when Bonaventura announced her departure last month, the 15 other Superior Court judges met and decided they should be first in line to take over the juvenile court.

Bonaventura objected in a recent letter to the Indiana Supreme Court, stating merit selection is the only way to name her replacement.

Magistrates Commons, Miller and Peller are adopting her argument that the other sitting judges have exceeded their authority and harmed the magistrates' opportunity for career advancement and opened the juvenile court to other legal challenges.

The petition calls on the high court to name an interim juvenile judge to sit in Schiralli's place until the matter is resolved.

For background, start with this ILB entry from March 15th.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 21, 2013 08:40 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts