Lake juvenile venue remains up in the air

2013-04-15T17:35:00Z 2013-04-16T12:01:05Z Lake juvenile venue remains up in the airBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
April 15, 2013 5:35 pm  • 

GARY | The wheels of justice are grinding too slowly for Gary, East Chicago and the NAACP lawyers who want Lake Juvenile Court child support hearings returned to Gary.

The Lake Juvenile Court staff, who resolve disputes about overdue child support complaints, remain in the Lake Juvenile Justice Center in Crown Point, two weeks after they were ordered by the Lake Circuit Court judge to head north to Gary.

Lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the cities of Gary and East Chicago are asking for the Lake Juvenile Court judge to be held in contempt of court for failing to move faster to restore Gary as the location for child support hearings.

However, the Indiana attorney general may delay the matter further by asking a higher court to resolve the dispute.

The controversy arose in February when former Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura closed down her Gary venue to consolidate court services in Crown Point for cost savings.

Lawyers for Gary, East Chicago and the NAACP said the consolidation creates a hardship on north county residents.

Lake Circuit Judge George Paras agreed the child support hearings must move back to Gary and ruled April 3 they must do so within 30 days.

Bonaventura stepped down as juvenile judge three weeks ago to become the new director of the Indiana Department of Child Services. Senior Judge Thomas Webber Sr. is overseeing the juvenile court until a permanent judge is named.

Webber said recently he has no objection to moving the staff back to Gary, but Paras doesn't have the authority to order the move. He said he has asked the attorney general to refer the matter to either the Indiana Court of Appeals or Supreme Court for a proper ruling.

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