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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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