Sixth judge appointed to oversee Kosciusko County lawsuit

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by David Slone, Times-Union

Another Elkhart judge has been appointed as a special judge in the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds motorized racing lawsuit.

Elkhart Superior Court IV Judge Gretchen S. Lund was appointed in an order filed Friday by Indiana Judicial Administrative Judge Dean A. Colvin for District 5.

She is the sixth judge – so far – to be handed the case.

Lund was elected on Nov. 4, 2014, and took office Jan. 1, 2015, for a term that expires on Dec. 31, 2020, according to ballotpedia.org. She served as a judge for the Goshen City Court from 2008 to 2014.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Butler University and a juris doctor from Valparaiso University. She has served as an adjunct professor at Goshen College and Indiana University South Bend. Ballotpedia indicates Lund served as president of the Goshen Bar Association in 2014 and on the board of directors for Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital Health System, Goshen Salvation Army and Miss Elkhart County Scholarship Program.

A 2007 Goshen News story states Lund served as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office beginning in May 2006, and she began her legal career as a trial attorney for Ice Miller in Indianapolis. Shen then completed a three-year judicial clerkship with U.S. Magistrate Judge William Lawrence. She worked several months in Elkhart City Court.

Elkhart County Circuit Court Judge Michael A. Christofeno, who was appointed in June as a special judge in the case, on July 6 filed an “order of disqualification of special judge pursuant to trial rule 79(H)” disqualifying himself as special judge in the fairgrounds lawsuit pursuant to the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct.”

The case was then referred back to Colvin, who had appointed Christofeno.

On June 11, Kosciusko County Community Fair Inc. filed motions seeking a new judge and venue in a court case to determine the future of motorized racing at the fairgrounds, as well as a motion to dismiss Count I of the plaintiffs’ complaint.

On June 12, Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed granted the motion for a change of judge, but as of this morning no rulings on the other motions have been made.

Superior Court I Judge David Cates was appointed as special judge. Cates declined jurisdiction due to a conflict.

The case was then transferred to Superior Court II Judge Torrey Bauer. Bauer declined jurisdiction due to conflict.

The case then transferred to Superior Court III Judge Joe Sutton. Sutton declined the special judge assignment due to a conflict.

The case was then referred back to Reed for designation of a special judge.

On May 16, Reed granted a preliminary injunction against the Fair Inc. – the defendants in the case – having motorized racing at the fairgrounds. The hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction was in Reed’s court May 10.

According to the injunction, the Fair is “prohibited from conducting, running, permitting or allowing motorized racing on fairgrounds property or otherwise violating the restrictive covenants” that were put into place in 1990.

The plaintiffs – four homeowners who sought an injunction against motorized racing – filed the complaint with the Kosciusko County Circuit Court for the injunction after some motorized racing events took place earlier this year.

The Fair filed a motion to appeal Reed’s order on June 8.

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