Local News

New La Porte County Government Attorney

(La Porte County, IN) - A new attorney for La Porte County government was appointed Wednesday by the politically-embattled commissioners.          


Scott Pejic, a veteran criminal defense attorney based in Michigan City, was hired in a 2-to 0 decision.


Commissioner Joe Haney abstained, saying he didn't know Pejic was a candidate.


Therefore, he never had a chance to interview him.


Commissioners Connie Gramarossa and Rich Mrozinski voted for Pejic a week after they terminated Andrew B. Jones as county attorney and removed Joe Haney as commission president. Gramarossa, who’s now president of the commission, along with Haney verbally tangled with each other before the split decision for Pejic.


Haney kept commenting and asking questions while Gramarossa tried calling for the vote.


She then paused and accused Haney of political grandstanding.


“We’ll give you the floor. You can try and make a fool out of me.  Go ahead.  How long would you like to badger us,” she said. To which he responded, “That’s not my intention at all.  My intention is to simply understand what’s transpired here."


Haney said he was given the impression by his colleagues last week the position would be advertised and candidates interviewed prior to being filled.


And that’s why he didn’t recruit anyone for the job unlike the other two commissioners, he said.


Mrozinski said he approached three lawyers who all turned him down because of how the position has become so politically charged the past few years.


“They don’t want to be part of that,” he said.


Gramarossa said she was contacted by Pejic after he heard about the opening and talked to another lawyer from South Bend.


She also said it was Haney’s fault that he misunderstood the process followed for filling the seat.


“I think this was an open process and everyone had the ability to bring somebody to the table,” she said.


In early January, Gramarossa sided with Haney in deciding to replace Shaw Friedman with Jones as county attorney. She said Jones’ handling of a dispute involving a request by La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan was a major factor in her decision to terminate him.


Fagan is seeking all of the emails from the former prosecutor and several of his staff members last year. He said he wants them to fill gaps in criminal cases where evidence was lost during his transition into office.


Gramarossa and Mrozinski went against the advice of Jones, who urged them to turn over the e-mails because they belong to whoever is prosecutor, warning them to expect a lawsuit from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office for not granting Fagan’s request.


Gramarossa said she was more than happy to give Fagan access the emails he needs but not all of them over concerns about the privacy of others.


“We will not give him thousands of unrelated emails from the county server for a political witch hunt and that’s the bottom line,” she said.


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