KOSCIUSKO — The Kosciusko County Community Fair racing case has fallen in the hands of a seventh judge.
Elkhart Superior Court 4 Judge Gretchen Lund was appointed as a special judge on July 13. On Monday, July 16, she disqualified herself as special judge pursuant to the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct.
Elkhart Superior Court 2 Judge Stephen Bowers was then appointed as special judge today, July 17. Bowers will serve in this case unless disqualified under the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct, ineligible for service under Trial Rule 79 or excused by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Bowers has been judge of Elkhart County Superior Court 2 since 2006. He was re-elected to his position in 2012.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed granted a change of judge for the case on June 12. Both Superior 1 Judge David Cates and Superior 2 Judge Torrey Bauer recused themselves from the case due to conflicts of interest on June 18. The case was then sent to Superior Court 3 Judge Joe Sutton, who also recused himself from the case due to a conflict of interest on June 21. On July 6, Judge Michael Christofeno of the Elkhart Circuit Court disqualified himself as special judge pursuant to the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct.
The court case stems after Mary Clemens, Merle Conner, Judith Conner and Chris Cummins, all of Warsaw, filed a complaint in Kosciusko County Circuit Court against the Kosciusko County Community Fair regarding racing events. In 1990, restrictive covenants were agreed upon which stated that the fair had the right to continue the use of its grandstand and racetrack facility for recreational and fairground activities other than motorized racing.
In March of this year, the plaintiffs discovered that the Kosciusko County Community Fair was planning to conduct motorized races in the spring and summer.
A hearing was held on May 10. Both parties appeared in person at the hearing and presented evidence. The judge took the evidence under advisement and declared an order.
The order by Judge Reed declared that the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction was granted. While this case continues, the fairgrounds is “prohibited from conducting, running, permitting or allowing motorized racing on fairgrounds property, or otherwise violating the restrictive covenants.” This preliminary injunction means that no racing took place during this year’s fair week.
The fairgrounds has appealed the preliminary injunction and still has pending motions requesting dismissal of the case and a change of venue.