RICH JAMES: Children shouldn't see how judges are behaving

2013-04-07T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Children shouldn't see how judges are behavingBy Rich James
April 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If someone made a movie about the effort to name a new Lake Superior Court Juvenile Division judge, it would have to be rated PG-13.

No, make it R. This isn’t something kids should see, particularly because of the mockery the judges on various levels are making of the judicial branch of government.

Let’s just say this isn’t the kind of government you read about in a civics book.

This isn’t about justice. No, it’s about greed and denial.

It all started more than a month ago when Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura was named director of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Like a vulture circling over roadkill, the 15 judges in the Lake Superior Court system said the next Juvenile Court judge would be the one with the most seniority within their ranks. That was Judge Gerald Svetanoff, who declined.

County Division Judge Nicholas Schiralli, the next in line, said he wanted to take over the largest judicial operation in the county.

But there was one problem. State law provides a judge must have gone through the judicial nominating commission process if he is to fill a vacancy. Schiralli was appointed as opposed to going through the merit selection process. Merit selection interviews applicants and sends three finalists to the governor.

But, hey, why should judges let a law stand in their way?

Not a problem, said Chief Judge John Pera with the support of the other judges in the system.

Pera and company said the law was legislative “meddling” in the judicial system. He added it was a “legislative overreach” and “unconstitutional” to boot. Talk about being judge, jury and executioner.

Bonaventura asked the Supreme Court to block Schiralli. The court flipped her letter in the round file.

So Juvenile Court Magistrates Glenn Commons, Charlotte Peller and Jeffery Miller filed suit to stop Schiralli from taking over.

Since it now was facing a real lawsuit, the high court decided it had better get judicial. But like a hot flash, that surge of judiciousness quickly passed.

No, the justices said, we can still avoid dirtying our hands in this Lake County legal wrangling.

And on the Seventh Day they appointed a mediator. They gave him until May 13 to resolve the matter.

I’m not sure how one mediates the law. I always thought it was up to judges to see that the law is upheld.

I guess that is unless the question of law involves a bunch of judges.

And one judge wouldn’t want another to look bad. That’s one of the rules in the Good Old Boys and Girls Club called the judiciary.

On second thought, this thing is turning out to be X-rated.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at The opinions are the writer’s.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Latest Local Offers

Featured Businesses

Submit a Letter to Editor

We welcome letters from readers on any issue of public interest, and make every effort to publish as many as we can and in a timely manner. The Times will publish only one letter a month from a writer, and be sure to include your name, address and a telephone number for verification. Letters should be 150 words or less. They will be edited.

Letters may be submitted:
  • Via our submission form.
  • Via e-mail.
  • Via fax: (219) 933-3249 or (219) 465-7298
  • Via mail or by hand to our offices:
    • 601 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321
    • 2080 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN 46307
    • 1111 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN 46383
    • 3410 Delta Dr., Portage, IN 46368
    • Please mark envelopes with "Attn: Letters"


Email Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross or call (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357



Should new garbage trucks burn compressed natural gas instead of diesel?

View Results