INDIANAPOLIS | A Lake County juvenile court judge has applied for the pending vacancy on the Indiana Supreme Court.
Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura is one of 34 applicants seeking to replace Justice Theodore Boehm on the state's high court. Boehm, 71, is retiring in September.
Bonaventura, 55, was a juvenile court magistrate for 11 years before being appointed to the bench by Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh in 1993. She was re-elected in 1998 and 2002.
She told The Times on Thursday her experience as a juvenile court judge would complement the judicial repertoire of the other four justices.
"There's really no one on the bench currently that has the experience that I have in the juvenile and family court arena, and I think that's something that's been missing in our state," Bonaventura said.
The judge said she loves the positive impact she is able to have on the lives of Indiana families by serving in juvenile court, but she said a seat on the Supreme Court would allow her to do even more.
"I've seen a lot in 28 years, and I think I have a lot to bring to the bench there," she said.
Slightly more than half the applicants for the post are women, including Clare Kraegel Nuechterlein, of South Bend, an assistant professor at Valparaiso University School of Law. Other candidates include Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher and state Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford.
Bonaventura attracted national attention when she allowed the MTV documentary "Juvies" to be filmed in her courtroom in 2005. The show followed 17 juvenile offenders as they made their way through the Lake County courts.
The Indiana Judges Association honored Bonaventura in 2006 for the project and commended her for making the Indiana judicial system more understandable to the public.
Bonaventura's application, along with the 33 other candidates, now goes to the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission for review. The seven-member commission will interview the applicants next week and is scheduled to select semifinalists Thursday or Friday.
Semifinalists will go through a second round of interviews with the commission before it selects three candidates to recommend to the governor. Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels will make the final selection from among the three recommended candidates.
Bonaventura said she is a Republican, like the governor, but she believes her qualifications make her the best choice for the Supreme Court regardless of party.
Boehm told The Times on the day he announced his retirement that he hoped the governor would select a woman to replace him on the court. Indiana and Idaho are the only two states that do not have a female justice on their state Supreme Court.