High court prevents judge's move to Lake juvenile bench

2013-03-21T20:00:00Z 2013-04-01T14:33:06Z High court prevents judge's move to Lake juvenile benchSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday granted a temporary stay sought by three Lake Juvenile Court magistrates who oppose the selection of Lake Superior Judge Nicholas Schiralli as Juvenile Court judge.

Schiralli was seated by agreement of the county's Lake Superior Court judges to replace outgoing Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura. Bonaventura last month accepted the governor's appointment as head of the Indiana Department of Child Services in Indianapolis.

Bonaventura is expected to relinquish her juvenile court seat Sunday.

In their lawsuit, longtime Juvenile Court Magistrates Glenn Commons, Jeffery Miller and Charlotte Peller ask the Indiana Supreme Court to give them the chance to apply for Bonaventura's seat. They ask the high court judges to rule on whether state law was circumvented when the Lake judges decided on Schiralli among themselves.

Lake is one of the few counties in the state where judges are picked through merit selection with ultimate appointment by the governor. However, the Superior Court judges decided they should have priority in filling the vacancy.

The three magistrates, Bonaventura, Schiralli and Chief Superior Court Judge John Pera did not immediately return calls for comment.

The Times on Wednesday had obtained a copy of a Verified Emergency Petition for Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition naming all 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.

Bonaventura registered her disagreement through a February letter to the high court.

The juvenile court magistrates have adopted Bonaventura's argument the other sitting judges exceeded their authority, harmed the magistrates' opportunity for career advancement and opened the juvenile court to other legal challenges.

On Thursday, in addition to approving the magistrates' request for an emergency stay as the high court mulls over its decision, the high court agreed to appoint a temporary judge to oversee juvenile court.

The court's order allows the Lake Superior Court judges to submit a brief opposing the magistrates' position, asking the judges to either submit a joint brief or eliminate any duplication of their content.

The Lake Superior Court judges must file their paperwork with the Clerk of the Supreme Court on or before noon Indianapolis time April 8, according to the order.

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