Lake Station mayor's stepdaughter files suit against city judge, city

2013-02-20T14:39:00Z 2013-10-09T14:53:06Z Lake Station mayor's stepdaughter files suit against city judge, cityDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

LAKE STATION | A former city court clerk has filed a lawsuit claiming the city judge who fired her June 7 holds office illegally because he did not meet residency requirements.

The suit was filed Wednesday in Lake Circuit Court on behalf of Miranda Brakley, a former city court clerk, Brakley's attorney Scott King said.

Brakley is the stepdaughter of Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist.

The suit filed Wednesday, on Brakley's behalf, includes a six-count complaint seeking a court determination that Lake Station City Judge Christopher Anderson illegally holds office.

The basis of the complaint is Anderson had moved from Lake Station to Hobart before the November 2011 municipal election. State law deems his office vacated if he is not a resident, King said.

"Our investigation has revealed that no later than Nov. 4, 2011, prior to the last municipal election, Anderson filed a document stating he was a resident of Hobart and that he continued that residency well after Jan. 1, 2012, when the current term of office began," King said.

King said when Brakley was fired from her job June 7, Anderson was not the judge because he did not live in Lake Station.

"Therefore, her firing was unlawful," King said. 

The complaint also alleges Brakley was fired for political reasons and that Anderson breached a written contract with Brakley when she was fired.

The complaint seeks monetary damages from Anderson and the city of Lake Station as well as injunctive relief returning her to her job as soon as possible.

"I adamantly deny all allegations," Anderson said, when reached by phone.

Soderquist could not be reached for comment.

Brakley was also the subject of a State Board of Accounts audit released earlier this month.

The state is asking Brakley to pay back $37,182 for unapproved leave payments received as former court clerk and the cost of the audit.

King has maintained Brakley doesn't owe the city or state any money because she hasn't done anything wrong.

He filed a response on Brakley's behalf to the State Board of Accounts.

Charles Pride, an office supervisor for the State Board of Accounts, said the financial errors were discovered in the routine annual audit of Lake Station.

He said the report will be forwarded to the state's attorney general.

"There's a possibility of criminal charges, but that's up the the attorney general who will handle this from this point forward," Pride said.

King said he believes his client has been caught up in the middle of drama between the City Council and Anderson.

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