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Monday, March 31, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Child support court returns to Gary "

A story March 28 in the Gary Post-Tribune reported:

GARY — An overflow crowd of judges, magistrates, lawyers and elected leaders on Friday celebrated the return of the Lake County child support court to Gary.

Among them were Indiana Supreme Court Justices Steven David and Gary native Robert D. Rucker, for whom the Superior Court building at 400 Broadway is named.

“Way to go, Lake County,” David said, adding he was “honored and humbled” to be at the rededication of “this grand old courthouse.”

Magistrate Terry Wilson will preside over the child support court in Gary.

A year ago, then-Lake County Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura relocated the court to her building adjacent to the government center in Crown Point, despite protests by officials from the northern part of the county.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was joined by others in a lawsuit demanding that the IV-D child support court remain in Gary where residents in Gary, Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago could have easier access to the facility.

After Thomas Stefaniak was named the new juvenile judge last year, he announced plans to return the court to Gary.

From the NWI Times, also on March 28th, a story by Lu Ann Franklin that reports:
GARY | A courtroom, crowded with judicial and elected officials, signaled a celebration Friday for the return of the Title IV-D Juvenile Court to the city.

“It was an easy decision,” said Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. about the move to resume hearings at the county's historic Judge Robert D. Rucker Courthouse at Fourth and Broadway for parents trying to resolve disputes about overdue child support.

That decision was announced in December by Stefaniak and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

Stefaniak, a longtime Lake Superior Criminal Court judge, assumed full-time responsibilities at the Juvenile Court on Dec. 20.

Former Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura closed down the Gary venue in 2012 in a consolidation that shifted all child support hearings to the Lake Juvenile Court facility in Crown Point. Bonventura said it would be cheaper for taxpayers to run one rather than two venues.

However, lawyers for Gary, East Chicago and the NAACP sued on grounds the move created a hardship for north Lake County residents who had limited transportation options to get to Crown Point for their hearings.

Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, joined the fight, indicating the closure was inconsistent with the commission’s decision to invest $3 million during recent years to renovate the courthouse named for Gary native and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert D. Rucker.

Before the court dispute was resolved, Bonaventura stepped down as juvenile judge to become Indiana Department of Child Services director, and Stefaniak became Juvenile Court judge.

For background, see this Feb. 2, 2013 ILB entry headed "Gary-based child support court move to Crown Point reignites controversy."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 31, 2014 08:26 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts