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Bonaventura delays leaving Lake County juvenile court

Updated: February 22, 2013 3:21PM



CROWN POINT- Lake Superior Court Judge Nicholas Schiralli confirmed late Thursday he will have to wait before he can take over juvenile court from retiring Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura.

A memo drafted by Bonaventura and sent to the office of the Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court and others said the long-time judge is putting off her leaving. Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Pence named appointed Bonaventura the new director of the Department of Child Services.

The memo, sent earlier this week, did not name a new date, nor did it list any specific reasons for the delay. Bonaventura was on the bench Thursday hearing cases and unavailable for comment.

Schiralli, who has led Room One county court division since the mid-1970s, exercised his seniority as the second-longest serving Lake Superior Court judge last week to transfer to juvenile court.

“I want to do what’s best for an easy transition (to juvenile court),” Schiralli said. “My first concern is the welfare of the children and litigants of juvenile court, as well as Lake County Division room one.

“Right now, I’m also in the process of just trying to sort this out for myself.”

Since 2000, Lake County judges have had a seniority process to fill in for departing colleagues. Judges can move to open judge positions, and whatever position is left open are filled by sitting governors after a Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission recommends three candidates.

The move to juvenile court would be a significant one for any of the county judges. The high profile court includes a juvenile center, 169 employees and a $6 million budget. Schiralli now manages 23 employees and a $750,000 budget.

Bonaventura raised the court’s profile with “Juvies,” an intense reality program on the inner workings of the court and juvenile detention center that aired on MSNBC and MTV.

She also launched the Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, program, oversaw the building of the sizable juvenile court complex and has served on a number of state boards.



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