CROWN POINT | Child support court will return to Gary.
Lake Circuit Judge George Paras issued a ruling Wednesday that last month's transfer of a Juvenile Court magistrate and support staff from Gary to Crown Point creates a hardship on Gary, Hammond and East Chicago residents who have limited public transportation to reach the new court venue.
Paras ordered the Lake Juvenile Court judge to restore child support hearings to the Justice Robert D. Rucker Courthouse, 15 W. Fourth Ave., within 30 days.
"It's good news for the north county residents," MacArthur Drake said.
He is one of a team of attorneys representing Gary, East Chicago and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who opposed the move.
Former Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, who ordered the court to Crown Point on Feb. 4, is no longer in a position to move it back. She resigned late last month to become the new director of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Senior Judge Thomas Webber Sr. is serving as caretaker of Juvenile Court until a permanent judge is named.
The dispute is over the accessibility of a service the Lake Juvenile Court established in the 1980s to enforce child support payments, on which thousands of single parents rely.
Bonaventura kept a courtroom for child support cases open in Gary after she moved the rest of her Juvenile Court staff 15 miles south to a $23 million Juvenile Justice Complex near 93rd Avenue and Chase Street in 2002.
She opened a separate courtroom for child support cases in Crown Point several years ago and decided this year to consolidate both locations in Crown Point for cost savings.
However, Paras ruled Bonaventura didn't get permission from her fellow judges to make that move.