Lake County Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced an agreement that is contemplated to result in the settlement of litigation surrounding the move of the IV-D Child Support out of the Gary, Indiana Court House. The agreement was the result of a collaborative effort involving Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, Lake County Clerk Michael Brown, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, and Lake County Councilpersons Elsie Franklin and Jerome Prince.
Judge Stefaniak indicated that while he understood the factors that led former Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonventura to close the Court, he was pleased that the parties were able to reach a solution that would ensure access to justice for citizens in the northern part of Lake County. This decision also honors the investment that has been made in the Gary Courthouse. Judge Stefaniak also praised the members of the Lake County Commission and Lake County Council for the flexibility in the use of resources to govern the Court.
Mayor Freeman-Wilson applauded the agreement and indicated that she knew that Mayor Anthony Copeland and the citizens of East Chicago and other north Lake County communities would join the citizens of Gary in their appreciation of the opportunity to attend hearings in the Gary Courthouse. She further indicated her willingness to develop employment opportunities and work with Judge Stefaniak to ensure compliance and prevent parents from having to be brought into Court.
Judge Stefaniak will assume full-time responsibilities at the Juvenile Court on December 20, 2013. He anticipates that a full service IV-D Court will return to Gary in January 2014 as well.