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Stefaniak to become new Lake County juvenile court judge

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Judge Thomas Stefaniak will take over the juvenile court in Lake County, ending a months-long dispute over the judgeship that involved the intervention of the Indiana Supreme Court.  

Court staff confirmed Stefaniak will move from Lake Superior Criminal Division 4 to fill a vacancy on the juvenile court created when Gov. Mike Pence selected Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura to lead the Department of Child Services.

Stefaniak said he intends to work jointly with adult probation and Lake County Community Corrections to re-establish a juvenile court presence in Gary that Bonaventura consolidated in recent years with court operations in Crown Point.

Plans are in the works to locate juvenile court programs including in-house detention, intensive probation and truancy intervention in Gary, Stefaniak said. A large number of users of those programs are in the northern end of Lake County. “We want to make it more accessible to them,” Stefaniak said.

“Judge Bonaventura had a very successful career over there and established a lot of good things,” he said. “My goal is to continue on with these successes and create some of our own.”

Lake County judges in February selected Civil Division Judge Nicholas Schiralli to fill the vacancy, leading to a lawsuit by juvenile court magistrates. The magistrates successfully petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court to block Schiralli’s transfer.

After mediation led by former Justice Frank Sullivan failed, the court ruled that Schiralli’s transfer could not be granted because he had not been appointed to the bench through merit selection.

Senior Judge Thomas W. Webber Sr. of Porter County was appointed by the court in March to serve as interim judge of the juvenile court. Stefaniak said it had not yet been determined when his transfer to the juvenile court will take effect.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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