Justices block Schiralli’s Lake County bench transfer

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The Indiana Supreme Court blocked the transfer of a judge who sought to replace former Lake Superior Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura after her appointment to head the Department of Child Services.

The justices unanimously held that Lake County’s merit-selection system prohibits Lake Superior Civil Court Judge Nicholas Schiralli from transferring to the juvenile division without going through merit selection first. Schiralli was appointed to the Lake County bench when a new court was created, but without first going through merit selection. His fellow judges in Lake County approved his transfer in February. Magistrates sued, claiming they were deprived a judgeship opportunity through the county’s merit-selection process.

“Indiana Code section 33-33-45-21(e) (The Lake County merit-selection statute) prevents the Judges from reassigning, transferring, or rotating Judge Schiralli from the County Division to the Juvenile Division. However, this prohibition does not preclude him from applying to be appointed, under the merit-selection process in Indiana Code section 33-33-45-38, to fill a vacancy in the other divisions of the court,” justices wrote in a  per curiam opinion.

Lake County magistrates had sought to permanently bar judges from transfer without first going through a merit-selection process, but the court denied that motion in State of Indiana ex rel. Glenn D. Commons, et al. v. The Hon. John R. Pera, et al., 45S00-1303-OR-209.

“The Court denies the Magistrates’ request for a permanent writ that would more broadly prohibit any current Judge from being transferred or reassigned to the Juvenile Division,” the court ruled. “This opinion is final. No petitions for rehearing or motions to reconsider shall be filed.”

The court also dismissed the judges’ argument that the county’s merit-selection statute was unconstitutional and held that local court rules may not contravene the statute.

Read previous IL coverage of the Lake County bench dispute.


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  1. What Mr. Bir is paying is actually Undifferentiated Family Support, which is a mixture of child support and spousal maintenance. If the courts had labeled accurately labeled the transfer payment, I think that Mr. Bir would have fewer objections to paying it because both Spousal Maintenance and Undifferentiated Family Support are tax deductions for the paying party and taxable to the receiving party. I brought this issue up with my family court judge when my voluntarily unemployed ex-wife was using the 'child support' transfer payment to support both herself and out children. Said family court judge stated that I did not know what I was talking about because I did not have a Juris Doctorate, despite my having a printout with dictionary definitions of the legal terms that I was using for documentation.

  2. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  3. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  4. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  5. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?