WBEZ | Lake Superior Court http://www.wbez.org/tags/lake-superior-court Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en NWI judge issues gag order in child death case http://www.wbez.org/story/nwi-judge-issues-gag-order-child-death-case-89059 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-12/christian 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Northwest Indiana judge is trying to keep in check comments made outside the courtroom concerning the death of 13-year-old Christian Choate of Gary.</p><p>Lake County Superior Court Judge Diane Bowell issued a gag order that goes beyond just preventing prosecutors and defense attorneys from speaking about the case to the press.&nbsp;The order extends to other parties who might be connected to the case in which Choate’s father and step-mother are accused in the boy’s murder.</p><p>A Lake County juvenile judge has to remain mum, as do officials with the Indiana Department of Child Services, which is being criticized for not doing enough to prevent Choate’s death.</p><p>While some view the order as overreaching, one former Lake County judge doesn’t see it that way.</p><p>“I think it tries to cover as much as it should. I don’t think it’s overly broad,” says Richard Maroc, who served nearly 25 years as a Lake Superior Court criminal division judge before retiring.</p><p>Maroc, who’s highly regarded in Northwest Indiana’s legal circles, presided in the same court building in Crown Point as Bowell now does.&nbsp;Now a defense attorney, Maroc handles cases before Judge Boswell but is not involved in the Choate case.</p><p>Maroc says he used gag orders sparingly, but says they are needed when media coverage is extensive.</p><p>“It’s a precautionary move. In a case like this I can see where the judge is coming from," Maroc says.<br> Police recovered Choate’s body from a shallow concrete grave in Gary’s Black Oak section back in May. Lake County prosecutors say the boy's body had been there for two years.</p><p>Prosecutors have charged Choate’s father, Riley Choate, 39, and his stepmother, Kimberly Kubina Choate, 45, with murder, battery, neglect and obstruction of justice.&nbsp;Both have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to be back before Judge Boswell on Aug. 2. The two are being held without bond in the Lake County jail in Crown Point.</p><p>Prosecutors allege the boy reportedly suffered years of abuse, including being locked in a dog cage and daily beatings, at the hands of his father, stepmother and a sister.</p></p> Tue, 12 Jul 2011 22:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/nwi-judge-issues-gag-order-child-death-case-89059 Hammond mayoral dispute heads to Indiana Court of Appeals http://www.wbez.org/story/business/hammond-mayoral-dispute-heads-indiana-court-appeals-84575 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-31/George Janiec.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.7738663897975478" style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">George Janiec is taking his fight to get put back on the Republican primary ballot for Hammond mayor to the Indiana Court of Appeals.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">At a brief hearing Thursday, Janiec’s attorney, Cordell Funk, said his client is appealing a ruling issued by Lake County Superior Court Judge Jesse Villalpando Jr. That ruling has kept Janiec’s name off of ballots issued for the start of early voting April 4. It is too late for Janiec to be on those ballots, but Funk said Janiec hopes to appear on ballots for election day polling on May 3.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“Obviously, not being on for any part is a problem,” Funk said. &nbsp;“But we think given that it’s a primary, those that support Janiec, knowing that he’s appealing and trying to get on the ballot, will hold off voting and won’t run in and vote for somebody else.”</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Funk said Janiec’s appeal could be taken up by the Indiana Supreme Court.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“We may ask the Supreme Court to remove it from the Appeals Court and hear it without getting an Appellate Court ruling,” Funk said. “We’re weighing that option. There is a procedure to do that. We’re also weighing the timelines of what would happen or not happen. So, we have to think about that Saturday and Sunday while we’re putting stuff together.”</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Villalpando upheld an early March ruling from the Lake County Election and Voters Registration Board that removed Janiec’s name from the primary ballot.</span><br> <span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Janiec’s candidacy was challenged by a Hammond resident. The basis of the challenge was that Janiec could not run because he is a member of the city’s nonpartisan school board, which prohibits members from engaging in political activity.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Villalpando ruled Wednesday that if Janiec wants to run for mayor, he must first resign his school board post.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Janiec's lawyer contends Indiana law does not prohibit school board members from running in partisan elections.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">But election board attorney Jim Wieser said Janiec got it wrong. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“In Hammond, (school board) policy specifically says that you must be nonpartisan and you cannot be engaged at all, in any way shape or form, in partisan politics,” Wieser said. “I think if you’re someone who holds himself out to say ‘I’m nonpartisan. I’m going to only represent the schools’ interest’ and then spends eight months of the year running for a partisan mayor’s office is probably not fulfilling his oath of office.”</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">There are, however, current school board members in neighboring communities who are running for partisan offices. The county’s election board did not remove those candidates in those races.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Wieser said that’s because those candidates did not face challenges, and it’s unknown if those school districts prohibit members from engaging in partisan politics.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“In the judge’s order, (Villalpando) was very careful to say that this order applies only to this specific and unique set of circumstances,” Wieser said.</span><br> <span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Four years ago, Janiec narrowly lost the general election to Hammond’s Democratic incumbent &nbsp;Mayor Tom McDermott Jr., who is also the head of the county’s Democratic Party.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Janiec, said the fight over his access to the ballot is now out of his hands.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Tahoma; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“I have never been through this nor do I know of anybody who has been through this,” Janiec said. “I leave it in my attorneys’ skillful hands in maneuvering through this judicial maze.”</span></p></p> Fri, 01 Apr 2011 02:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/business/hammond-mayoral-dispute-heads-indiana-court-appeals-84575 Hammond GOP mayoral hopeful out http://www.wbez.org/story/george-janiec/hammond-gop-mayoral-hopeful-out-84515 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.7241763980135641" style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">A Lake County, Indiana judge says George Janiec is ineligible to run in the Hammond mayoral primary because he is a member of the city’s nonpartisan public school board.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Lake County Superior Court Judge Jesse Villalpando Jr.’s ruling says if Janiec wants to run in the race, he’ll have to resign from the school board first.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“Janiec is the person who created this controversy and logically is the only person who can remove the condition undermining his municipal ambitions. He still has time to help himself,” Villalpando wrote in his ruling released Wednesday afternoon.</span><br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Four years ago, Janiec came within 500 votes of upsetting incumbent Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Janiec won a seat on the Hammond school board just last year, but in February, he wanted another crack at trying to become mayor of Northwest Indiana’s largest city.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Earlier this month, his candidacy was challenged by a Hammond resident on the grounds that Janiec could not run for a partisan office while holding a position on a nonpartisan board.</span><br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">A majority of the Lake County Election and Voters Registration Board agreed and voted to remove Janiec from the primary ballot at its meeting in early March.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Janiec challenged that ruling in Lake County Superior Court.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“On the day before filing closed in February, 2011, as Janiec himself told the court on March 29, Janiec broke that pledge when he filed his Declaration of Candidacy for Municipal Election, declaring himself a partisan candidate for Mayor, City of Hammond,” Villalpando wrote.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Villalpando had said last week that he would rule by this Friday, April 1; instead, he ruled two days earlier than that. The judge has noted that, in this case, “time is of the essence” because early voting ballots have already been printed without Janiec’s name included.</span><br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Early voting starts Monday, with the primary opening on May 3.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Villalpando has scheduled a final hearing on the case for Thursday at 3 p.m. at his downtown Hammond courtroom. </span><br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;"> </span></p></p> Thu, 31 Mar 2011 00:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/george-janiec/hammond-gop-mayoral-hopeful-out-84515 Hammond mayoral ballot issue heats up http://www.wbez.org/story/george-janiec/hammond-mayoral-ballot-issue-heats-84467 <p><p>A would-be candidate for mayor in Hammond, Indiana, will continue to spend precious time fighting to stay on the ballot.</p><p>George Janiec had been booted off the ballot in Hammond’s GOP mayoral primary.&nbsp;And he’s under serious time pressure - the race is in five weeks but early voting begins Monday.</p><p>So, Janiec was hoping a Lake County, Indiana judge would look at the facts of the case and place him back on today.&nbsp;But on Tuesday, Lake Superior Court Judge Jesse Villalpando says he’ll need until the end of the week to make a decision.</p><p>Villalpando called an emergency meeting Monday to settle a dispute between the parties. The dispute was settled but that won’t mean an earlier decision by Villalpando who has acknowledge, “time is of the essence,” since next month starts early voting with the actual primary on May 3<sup>rd</sup>.</p><p>That’s welcome news to Janiec’s likely Democratic opponent - Hammond’s incumbent Mayor, Tom McDermott Jr.</p><p>“I think I can beat George Janiec if he’s lucky enough to get back on the ballot. I’m not afraid of him,” McDermott said.&nbsp; “But if he’s on the ballot, I’ll take it to him but right now, there’s no guarantee he’s even going to be on the ballot.”</p><p>McDermott beat Janiec in a close general election four years ago winning by a mere 500 votes.</p><p>The Lake County Election and Voters Registration Board removed Janiec from the primary ballot in early March, saying he is ineligible to run in a partisan race because he sits on a non-partisan school board.</p><p>Janiec says there is no state law prohibiting him running in a partisan election while holding a nonpartisan seat.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 29 Mar 2011 23:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/george-janiec/hammond-mayoral-ballot-issue-heats-84467