Judge needs more time before leaving Lake County juvie seat
By Michael GOnzalez Post-Tribune correspondent February 22, 2013 2:00PM
Michael McArdle/Post-Tribune Mary beth bonaventura photographed April 19, 2005.
Updated: March 24, 2013 6:09AM
CROWN POINT — Retiring Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura Friday said there is no mystery or “hidden agenda” to putting off her retirement date.
“There is nothing to hide,” Bonaventura said. “It’s just that after 31 years on the bench, it’s taking me longer than I expected to wrap things up.”
Earlier this month, Bonaventura announced she would retire Feb. 28 to become the new director of the high-profile Indiana Department of Child Services after being tapped for the position by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Days later, Lake Superior Court Judge Nicholas Schiralli, who has been the Room One county court judge for almost four decades, exercised his seniority, per a 2000 state law, to transfer to juvenile court.
Schiralli on Thursday confirmed Bonaventura drafted a memo indicating she was putting off her retirement without listing a new, specific effective date.
Bonaventura said she delayed her retirement to square things away in the juvenile court and detention center and other matters, such as several cases for which she was named a special judge.
Bonaventura initially picked the end of February so she could move into the DCS position more quickly. The DCS has been without a permanent director since former Marion County Judge James Payne resigned in September, following allegations he tried to influence a department case involving children in his family.
Kara Brooks, a spokeswoman for Pence, said Bonaventura advised the governor about the delay on Tuesday. Brooks also said DCS “has a strong leader in place, Interim Director John Ryan.”
Kathryn Dolan, the Indiana State Supreme Court’s public information officer, could not confirm Chief Justice Brent Dickson received notice from Bonaventura of her plans to delay retirement, but Dolan said Justice Robert Rucker, who chairs the Lake County Nominating Commission “has been made aware Judge Bonaventura has reconsidered that (retirement) date.”