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Lake County judge pro tem appointed to fill Bonaventura vacancy

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Senior Judge Thomas W. Webber Sr. was appointed a judge pro tem late Friday as the Indiana Supreme Court intervened further in a controversy over who will be the next judge of the Lake Superior Court Juvenile Division.

The court issued an order appointing Webber one day after it issued an emergency order preventing Lake Superior Judge Nicholas Schiralli from taking over the vacancy created when Juvenile Division Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura was tapped to lead the Department of Child Services.

Justices on Friday ordered Webber, 75, to fill in until a dispute over Bonaventura’s successor can be resolved. Webber is a retired Superior Court judge from neighboring Porter County.

On Thursday, the court stayed any further effort to transfer Schiralli into the juvenile court after magistrates filed an action that said such a move would violate Lake County’s merit selection statute. Magistrates seek a permanent writ of mandamus and prohibition in State of Indiana ex rel. Glenn D. Commons, et al., v. the Hon. John R. Pera as Chief Judge of the Lake Superior Court, et al., 45S00-1303-OR-209.

Schiralli claims he is entitled through seniority to a transfer that would allow him to succeed Bonaventura, who resigned effective Sunday to take over DCS. Prior to the magistrates’ suit, Bonaventura asked the Supreme Court to require her replacement on the Lake Superior bench be appointed under the county’s merit selection system, I.C. 33-33-45-28.

Justices on Thursday gave respondents until noon Indianapolis time on April 8 to file briefings with the clerk of the court.


 

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