HAMMOND — The Indiana Supreme Court has removed from the Nov. 6 ballot the name of a Lake Superior Court judge who is under investigation for dereliction of duty.
Judge Jesse Villalpando has told the high court he wants to retire Dec. 31 and not stand for retention, according to a court order made public early Friday.
Court paperwork, filed by the judge's attorney, states Villalpando wants to voluntarily step down from the bench "due to substantial change in circumstances" and that Villalpando "did not think it would be open and honest with the voters of Lake County to stand for retention knowing full well that he does not intend to serve another term beginning January 1, 2019, if retained."
That comes two months after the Indiana office of judicial administration filed a petition asking the Indiana Supreme Court to appoint a temporary replacement for Villalpando, 58, as judge of Lake Superior Court, County Division 4 over allegations Villalpando failed to perform his duties and has been making injudicious statements.
Justin Forkner, executive director of the judicial administration, accused Villalpando of refusing to process more than 50 criminal cases the Lake County prosecutor's office wanted filed in his court between May 9 and 17. They included cases of domestic violence, drunken driving, drug charges and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon and traffic violations.
Forkner states Villalpando's dereliction of duty resulted in three criminal defendants illegally being held in County Jail for more than 48 hours after their initial arrest without a judicial determination that the state had probable cause to charge them with criminal offenses.
Villalpando also has been accused of spreading “unsubstantiated conspiracies” and making inappropriate public comments.
Villalpando hired Michael Bosch to defend him and Bosch told the high court earlier this month he was in contact with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, which provides assistance to judges, attorneys and law students who suffer physical or mental disabilities resulting from chemical dependency, mental health problems or age, and he received a list of three counseling providers.
Bosch filed new paperwork this week requesting the high court permit Villalpando to retire and order state election officials to remove him from the ballot, since the statutory period for withdrawing a name from the ballot was over.
Villalpando served several years as an East Chicago city attorney and 16 years as the 12th District state representative in Lake County before Gov. Frank O'Bannon appointed him judge in 2000 to the Lake Superior Court, County Division 4 bench in downtown Hammond.