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Saturday, June 08, 2013

Ind. Courts - More on "Thomas Stefaniak to become new Lake Juvenile Court judge" And what about Allen County?

Updating this ILB entry from June 1st, now that Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak is moving into the vacant Lake Juvenile Court seat, who will fill the resulting criminal court vacancy?

Susan Brown of the NWI Times reports today:

CROWN POINT | No eligible Lake Superior Court judge has elected to transfer to the Criminal Court bench held by Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., who will move to the Juvenile Court bench.

Stefaniak last week announced he will replace former Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, whom Gov. Mike Pence named director of the Indiana Department of Child Services in March.

The Juvenile Court seat had been mired in controversy until the Indiana Supreme Court barred in May the transfer of Judge Nicholas Schiralli, who had not gone through merit selection.

The high court's decision also in effect barred the eligibility of Judges Julie Cantrell and Jesse Villalpando, leaving the field open to the 11 remaining Lake Superior Court judges.

One civil division judge took himself out of the running early in the weeklong period set by Judge John Pera, chief judge of Lake Superior Court, for judges to express their interest to transfer. The deadline was 4 p.m. Friday.

"I love being in the Harbor," East Chicago Judge Calvin Hawkins said.

Hawkins said he never envisioned himself in anything but the civil arena, where his interests and abilities lay.

"I have no desire to be anything else," he said.

Pera said the selection will now go to the Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission, a bipartisan group of lawyers and lay people.

Chaired by Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, the commission will interview applicants and name three nominees, one of whom the governor will appoint to fill the vacancy.

Pera said Stefaniak will take over the Juvenile Court bench after the new Criminal Court judge is selected, currently anticipated sometime later this year.

Senior Judge Thomas Webber will continue to serve as interim Juvenile Court judge until that time, Pera said. Webber frequently has served as senior judge in Lake County.

ILB: This story raises a question in my mind? What has happened with filling the Allen County vacancy? When last we reported, on April 28th, three finalists had been selected -- see Rebecca S. Green's long April 28th story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, including:
Those three people – two magistrates and a local attorney in private practice – now await the decision by Gov. Mike Pence to determine who will replace Allen Superior Court Judge Dan Heath.
According to IC 33-33-2-43, the governor has 60 days to act. The three were selected April 26th, again per Ms. Green:
FORT WAYNE – The Allen County judicial nominating commission picked three names Friday to send off to Indianapolis for the vacant Allen Superior Court judicial seat.

Those three include two currently-serving Allen County magistrates and a partner at a local law firm.

Allen Circuit Magistrate Craig Bobay, Allen Superior Court Magistrate Jennifer DeGroote and Michael Michmerhuizen, a partner at Barrett & McNagny, have been nominated to fill the seat of Allen Superior Judge Dan Heath.

What about the Governor's judicial appointments page? It continues to say: "There Are No Current Vacancies."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 8, 2013 09:44 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts