Schiralli named new Lake County Juvenile Court judge
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent February 15, 2013 2:54PM
Nicholas Schiralli, Lake County Superior Court Judge. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
On the air
Newly named Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Nicholas Schiralli will be a guest on the radio program Steel Shores, on WLTH 1370 AM hosted by Post-Tribune correspondent Michael Gonzalez at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Updated: February 15, 2013 10:20PM
CROWN POINT — Lake Superior Court Judge Nicholas J. Schiralli confirmed Friday he has been named the next Juvenile Court judge. He will replace retiring Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, who was named the new director of Indiana Child Services, effective March 1.
After serving in various judicial offices since 1973, mostly in the county court system, Schiralli, 64, of Hobart, said his new position gives him the opportunity to try to stop young people from developing criminal habits before they become adults.
“It’s a whole lot easier to correct a problem before it becomes too big,” he said, reciting a litany of problems, from drug abuse to alcoholism to domestic battery. “These are also issues that are present with our young, and what we want to be able to do is to try to catch and eliminate our problems before the habits become too inbred in them.”
The juvenile division has a $6 million budget and almost 170 employees spread between the court and the juvenile detention center.
Schiralli, who attended grade school in Gary and served as justice of the peace for Calumet Township in 1973, also said he would like to keep the IV-D child support courts in Gary and East Chicago.
The outcome of the move, for now, is up in the air, as officials from the two cities, the Lake County Board of Commissioners and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People earlier this month filed an injunction to keep Bonaventura from consolidating those courts in Crown Point, with the rest of the juvenile courts.
“It’s where my core beginning began, in Gary,” Schiralli said, adding pending litigation will determine the next step. “I’d like to keep the court where the people are, because its for the convenience of the people, to make justice available for all.
“The courthouse is also a symbol of justice and courthouses need to be present in these communities.”
Judges in the Superior Court system are eligible to seek a transfer to Schiralli’s county court seat. Later this year, the Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission will collect applications from county attorneys to fill the county court spot.
The commission will select and forward three finalists to Gov. Mike Pence for his selection.
In Lake County, judges can decide, in seniority order, to fill another judge’s seat. Then, their spots will be filled by other judges, by their choice and in seniority order, until a final position remains.
The Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission then will take applications from county attorneys to fill the remaining seat, and that body will send three nominations to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
In Lake County, one of two counties in the state where judges are not popularly elected by party, judges have practiced the seniority process since 2000. For example, Judge Diane Kavadias-Schneider moved into retired Judge Jeffery Dywan’s civil division courtroom in Crown Point, opening a seat in the civil court in Hammond, which was filled by Jon Sedia, who was appointed by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels. Judge William Davis also opted to move from the East Chicago courtroom to a civil division bench in Hammond.