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. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

  2. I was wondering about the 6 million put aside for common attorney fees?does that mean that if you are a plaintiff your attorney fees will be partially covered?

  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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