ILNews

Child Support Court being reopened in Gary

Marilyn Odendahl
December 4, 2013
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Although an appeal is pending in the Indiana Court of Appeals, the child support court that had been consolidated to Crown Point in early 2013 is moving back to Gary.

The IV-D Child Support Court in Gary was relocated by former Lake County Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura. Following Bonaventura’s decision, a complaint against the move was filed in Lake Circuit Court by several interested parties including Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. said the consolidation created an access to justice problem. Residents of Gary, East Chicago and Hammond who do not own a car would have a difficult time finding transportation to Crown Point.

“I have the highest respect for Judge Bonaventura,” Stefaniak said. “I can see why she did that. I don’t criticize her reasons. I just hold a different opinion.”

Also, he said, a courtroom for the child support court has been refurbished in the Robert D. Rucker Building and a parking lot is being added nearby which should alleviate some of the previous physical constraints and logistical problems with the Gary location.

Lake Circuit Court Judge George Paras had issued a temporary restraining order stopping the relocation. An appeal was then filed with the Court of Appeals.

Stefaniak and Freeman-Wilson made a joint announcement Dec. 4 that an agreement had been reached that should bring a settlement to the litigation surrounding the move of the IV-D Child Support Court. They attributed the agreement to a “collaborative effort” involving Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, Lake County Clerk Michael Brown, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, and Lake County Council members Elsie Franklin and Jerome Prince.

Freeman-Wilson discussed the case in September when she spoke in Indianapolis at the Marion County Bar Association’s Kuykendall-Conn Dinner. She said she had met with Bonaventura, now director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, and when they could not reach an understanding, the mayor decided to join the lawsuit.

If the litigation gets remanded to the trial court, Stefaniak believes a motion to dismiss will be granted. Even though the lawsuit has not been formally settled, the judge said he met with county leaders, talked to his staff and decided that moving the court back to Gary now was the right thing to do.

Stefaniak will assume full-time responsibilities at the Lake County Juvenile Court on Dec. 20. He anticipated the IV-D Child Support Court would reopen in Gary at the start of February 2014.

 



 

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  1. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  2. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  3. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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  5. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

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