High court won't intervene in Lake Juvenile court judge replacement dispute

2013-03-15T14:04:00Z 2013-04-01T14:33:07Z High court won't intervene in Lake Juvenile court judge replacement disputeBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
March 15, 2013 2:04 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | The Indiana Supreme Court won't stop Lake Superior Judge Nicholas Schiralli from becoming the next Lake County juvenile judge this month.

The high court decided Friday it won't issue an advisory opinion regarding the correct way to select the next juvenile judge because of the complexity of law and court rules surrounding the question, said David Remondini, chief deputy executive of the division of state court administration.

The justices communicated their decision Friday to soon-to-be-departing Lake Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, who expressed her disappointment.

Bonaventura, who objected to the process used to pick her successor, said she soon will step down as juvenile court judge to become head of the Indiana Department of Child Services in Indianapolis.

The 15 other Lake Superior Court judges decided last month they should be first in line for her vacancy by order of their job seniority and agreed upon Schiralli, who has been a county judge since 1976.

Bonaventura objected to that and invited the Indiana Supreme Court to intervene. She wanted the state's high court to order merit selection, a nonpartisan process in which a nine-member panel of lawyers and lay people interview any county attorneys willing to apply.

In merit selection, the panel, called the Lake Judicial Nominating Commission, would choose three finalists whose names would be forwarded to Gov. Mike Pence. The governor then would appoint the new judge, who would serve for about two years before voters would get to chose whether to retain or replace the judicial appointee.

Schiralli didn't return a call seeking comment.

Bonaventura initially planned to leave the bench at the beginning of this month but later said she needed a few additional weeks to wrap up court business. She hasn't given a new date of departure.

Times staff writer Marisa Kwiatkowski contributed to this report.

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