ILNews

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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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