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. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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