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After three days, hearing on moving court to Crown Point ends

Updated: April 14, 2013 6:34AM



CROWN POINT — After slogging through nearly two full days of testimony from a dozen witnesses across three days, the IV-D court will continue with business as usual for the next month.

Lake Circuit Court Judge George Paras Tuesday ordered attorneys for the cities of East Chicago and Gary and for retiring Lake Superior Court Juvenile Division Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura to submit legal findings and legal backings to him in 10 days.

Paras then will have up to 30 days to rule.

Attorneys for both sides had little to say late Tuesday.

Attorneys Eric Oden Clark, Bessie Davis, Macarthur Drake and Barbara Bolling on Feb. 1 filed for a preliminary injunction to keep Bonaventura from relocating the IV-D court, which handles financial matters related to paternity, custody and some divorces, from Gary to the Juvenile Justice Center in Crown Point. Bonaventura made the move three days later anyway.

The county’s two IV-D courts are mostly funded with federal money, and the courts have been under the Juvenile Division for years.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys spent most of Friday and Monday afternoons, and nearly all of Tuesday, working to demonstrate how moving one of the IV-D courts from its original location on 4th Avenue and Broadway in Gary to south county would cause transportation hardships for litigants from Lake Station to Gary to East Chicago and Whiting.

Bonaventura and her supporters repeatedly claimed consolidating the Gary IV-D Court with the one in Crown Point was about efficiency and providing better service to all county residents. Bonaventura was represented by two attorneys from the Indiana Attorney General Office’s Civil Division.

Witnesses included public transportation riders and policy makers, attorneys and a magistrate, a member of the Lake County Board of Commissioners and Bonaventura for nearly three hours of testimony.

Juvenile Court Magistrate Kate Garza testified she has heard no complaints from litigants about traveling south to the Juvenile Justice Center, while Devita Cooper, a Gary mother, told the court she now has to travel up to 90 minutes to attend IV-D child support hearings in Crown Point.



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