Special Judge appointed in Kosciusko County Fairgrounds case

A special judge has been appointed to the fairgrounds motorized racing lawsuit.

According to court documents filed today, the Honorable Dean A. Colvin, administrative judge, on Monday filed an order appointing the Honorable Michael A. Christofeno as the special judge. Christofeno is the Elkhart County Circuit Court judge.

Christofeno won the judge’s seat in the general election on Nov. 8, 2016. A Republican, he was unopposed in the general election but defeated three others in the primary.

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 plaintiff’s complaint.

RELATED: Kosciusko County Fairgrounds seeks new judge and venue

The following day, June 12, Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed granted the motion for a change of judge, but as of this morning had not ruled on the other motions.

RELATED: Four Kosciusko County judges recuse themselves from fairgrounds lawsuit

Superior Court I Judge David Cates was appointed as special judge, pursuant to local rule, subject to his acceptance. Cates declined jurisdiction due to a conflict and recused himself.

The case was then transferred to Superior Court II Judge Torrey Bauer, subject to his acceptance. Bauer declined jurisdiction due to conflict and recused himself from the case.

The case then transferred to Superior Court III Judge Joe Sutton, subject to his acceptance. Thursday, Sutton declined to accept the special judge assignment due to a conflict and recused himself. The case was then referred back to Reed for designation of a special judge through district administrative procedure.

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. Evidence and testimony were submitted by both sides.

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 – posted a $50,000 bond on May 22 to cover costs in the event the defendants win the lawsuit. They filed the complaint with the 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.