Lake County judge dies unexpectedly

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A Lake County judge was found dead in his home Tuesday after not showing up for morning hearings.

Superior Judge Robert A. Pete, 54, apparently died of natural causes, coroner's officials told a local newspaper, and the local legal community was reeling from his unexpected death. A bailiff went to the judge's home after he didn't arrive in court or notify staff about his absence.

Judge Pete was appointed to the Superior Court's Civil Division 5 courtroom in Hammond in 2001 and faced a retention vote in 2004.

"(He) was a respected member of the bench, known for his intelligence, temperament, and knowledge of the law," Lake Superior Judge Thomas Stefaniak said. "Judge Pete was a very approachable person, an all around good guy, and he will be missed."

One of Judge Pete's more prominent cases came in October when he denied gun makers' request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Gary officials in 1999, which alleged the gun makers do little to control the flow of handguns used in crimes. His landmark ruling was that the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act would deprive the city of its rights to due process.

Judge Pete also was involved a 2004 ruling in a suit filed by residents blocking collection of property tax bills after statewide changes to tax assessments.

The judge ruled that state laws that give massive tax breaks to industrial companies were unconstitutional.

A native of Gary, Judge Pete earned his law degree at Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington. He began his law practice in 1977 and worked as a private attorney for 22 years before becoming a part-time commissioner in the courts. He became a magistrate in the county's Gary courtroom in 1999.

His wife, Judith, and their four sons survive him.

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  1. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

  4. While if true this auto dealer should be held liable, where was the BMV in all of this? How is it that the dealer was able to get "clean" titles to these vehicles in order to sell them to unsuspecting consumers?

  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...