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Sullivan: Mediation between Lake County judges, magistrates fails

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Mediation ordered by the Indiana Supreme Court failed to settle a dispute among Lake County judges over a juvenile court vacancy, according to a report filed Wednesday by the former justice who tried to resolve the matter.

Former Indiana Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. filed a final report on the same day a mediation session was conducted 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.

“At the conclusion of that session, the issues between the relators and the respondents were not settled,” Sullivan told the court. The justices now will decide the matter.

The dispute among judges in Indiana’s second-largest county erupted after former Lake Superior Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence to lead the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Judges in the merit-selection county granted leave for Judge Nicholas Schiralli to transfer to the juvenile bench from civil court, but Glenn Commons and other juvenile magistrates challenged the move in March. The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus blocking Schiralli’s transfer before Bonaventura left the bench. Justices then appointed Senior Judge Thomas Webber Sr. to serve as interim judge in the juvenile court.

The court in April appointed Sullivan to mediate, but also ordered the case fully briefed that month in case mediation failed.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court was in Lake County on Thursday at Merrillville High School to hear arguments in an unrelated search-and-seizure case, Phillip Billingsley v. State of Indiana, 02S05-1303-CR-160.
 

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