Lake County commissioner doesn’t want court moved out of Gary
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent February 1, 2013 5:50PM
Updated: March 3, 2013 6:14AM
Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen Jr., D-Gary, is asking superior court officials and the governor to reconsider the transfer of the Gary child support court to Crown Point.
Friday, Allen released a letter sent to Gov. Mike Pence and, Lake Superior Court Chief Judge John Pera asking them to take action to return the juvenile division’s IV-D court back to the Gary courthouse because the “move places a great hardship upon people from Northern Lake county who are involved in IV-D hearings,” he wrote. A IV-D (4D) court is the designation for the federally mandated child support court.
“Lake County does not have a (sic) urban transportation system. To get from the northern tier (Whiting, Hammond, East Chicago, Lake Station and Gary) to Crown Point is very difficult,” he continued.
Allen is asking the governor and chief judge to also consider how much the county has spent since 2009 renovating the fourth floor IV-D courtroom at the Justice Robert D. Rucker Courthouse in Gary, along with general repairs to the building itself. The county has spent more than $3 million in the past five years on the work and another $180,000 on the courtroom renovation.
Allen said if IV-D cannot be moved back to Gary, he wants officials to consider consolidating one of the other Lake Superior Courts into the Gary facility, the most logical choice of which is Judge Calvin Hawkins’ East Chicago Lake Superior Court
Friday Pera said the decision to move a subsidiary of a court, such as IV-D which is a juvenile court subsidiary, is that of the judge overseeing the court, in this case Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura.
“The individual judge has the authority in my option on what court operations will be held where,” Pera said.
He said a judge’s decision to move a court subsidiary is based on all the information available to them.
“I know she gave this move a great deal of thought and consideration,” Pera said. Bonaventura could not immediately be reached Friday for comment.
When it comes to moving an entire court, such as the East Chicago court, a majority vote of all 16 Lake Superior judges is needed. Pera said at this time no formal request for moving a court has been made for the Lake Superior Court to consider. Hawkins also could not immediately be reached Friday.
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter in a statement Friday said his child support office and his child support employees will remain based in the Rucker Courthouse in Gary. He said his child support attorneys also will remain in Gary and will continue to provide legal service n all the courts of Lake County.