State Supreme Court stops Schiralli transfer to juvenile division court
By RuthAnn Krause Post-Tribune correspondent May 17, 2013 12:34PM
Updated: June 19, 2013 6:11AM
The Indiana Supreme Court has barred the transfer of Lake Superior Court Judge Nicholas Schiralli from the county division to the juvenile division.
The court in a Friday ruling determined that state law prevents Lake County judges from transferring Schiralli, but that he is not precluded from applying to be appointed by the governor under the merit-selection process.
The ruling also doesn’t prevent other current merit-selected judges from being transferred or reassigned to the juvenile division under a “transfer rule” in effect for more than a decade.
Former Lake Superior Court-Juvenile Division Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura resigned the post to assume leadership of the Indiana Department of Child Services. Senior Judge Thomas W. Webber Sr., of Porter County, is serving as judge pro tem in the juvenile division after being appointed by the court on March 25.
Friday’s ruling came after three juvenile court magistrates, Glenn D. Commons, Jeffrey Miller and Charlotte Ann Peller, filed an action seeking an emergency ruling and a permanent ruling and prohibition of the transfer. A majority of the Lake County judges voted Feb. 12 to allow Schiralli to be reassigned to the juvenile division upon Bonaventura’s resignation.
The magistrates sought to bar Schiralli’s transfer by arguing that he was not appointed to the Lake Superior Court under the merit-selection process outlined in state law and is therefore prohibited to transfer from the county division to the juvenile division.
The judges who fought the magistrate’s filing contended that Schiralli was elected in 1976 to a four-year term on the county court of Lake County and was later elected to the Lake Superior Court once the County Division became part of the Lake Superior Court system. Their position is that the prohibition on transfer in state law can’t be enforced because it conflicts with Lake County courts’ “transfer rule,” but the Indiana Supreme Court disagreed.
Under the merit-selection process for judges, an individual applies to the judicial nominating commission, which identifies three individuals for consideration by Gov. Mike Pence for appointment.