Indiana State Police to investigate missing court records

Indiana State Police plans to investigate why Lake Station City Court failed to report license restrictions to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, according to an official with the agency.

Indiana State Police First Sgt. Al Williamson said Monday that he has assigned two detectives to investigate drunken driving cases that were improperly handled between 2008 and 2012.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter requested the investigation last month after discovering a number of cases heard in Lake Station City Court weren't submitted for inclusion in the permanent driving histories of defendants.

In one of the cases, a 2011 reckless driving conviction wasn't submitted for Randolph L. "Randy" Palmateer, 37, business manager for the Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council. Carter said his office would've more vigorously prosecuted Palmateer's arrest earlier this year at a Hammond sobriety checkpoint if it had known it wasn't his first offense.

Carter said earlier this week that he's concerned the reporting failure could involve hundreds of drivers who should've had their driving privileges suspended, The (Munster) Times reported.

State law requires courts to mail convictions for serious moving violations, including drunken driving, to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which assesses points for such convictions that remain on a person's driving record for two years and can result in license suspensions and higher insurance rates.

Thirty years ago, several officials involved in Lake County Court in Crown Point, including two judges and a prosecutor, were convicted of making court records disappear so people convicted of drunken driving wouldn't receive points on their driving records.

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