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Allen County judge regrets misconduct

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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An Allen County judge has publicly expressed his deep regret for failing to control his emotions late last year when he verbally berated members of a defendant's family following a sentencing hearing.

Allen Superior Judge Kenneth R. Scheibenberger filed a formal answer Aug. 8 to the charges lodged against him July 15 by the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications. The judicial disciplinary body has charged him with four counts of misconduct for his behavior in a fellow jurist's courtroom in November.

At that time, Judge Scheibenberger suspended his court session and went to Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull's courtroom to watch a sentencing hearing. He sat in the gallery wearing his black judicial robe while the defendant was sentenced for a weapons violation, the notice says.

As the hearing concluded, Judge Scheibenberger approached the deputy prosecutor at the front of the courtroom and "created a disturbance," then turned to the defendant's parents in the front row and verbally berated their son.

Judge Scheibenberger is accused of violating canons that require judges to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and high standards of conduct, of not avoiding impropriety and promoting the public's confidence in the judiciary, committing conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and committing willful misconduct of office.

Now in his late 50s, the judge has been on the bench since January 1992. He was admitted to practice in October 1976.

In a response to the formal charges, Fort Wayne attorney James Fenton wrote that his client "deeply regrets that he failed to prevent his emotions from affecting his conduct and recognizes that his actions were inappropriate. Judge Scheibenberger looks forward to reaching a satisfactory resolution of this matter in the near future."

The response also says the judge doesn't dispute the facts, but that he disagrees with certain conclusions that the commission seeks to draw from them, and that he believes other circumstances and material facts should be considered in his case.

Fenton wrote in an e-mail to Indiana Lawyer this morning that he's not permitted to speak about the case.

Now, the Indiana Supreme Court will appoint three masters to conduct a hearing on the charges of judicial misconduct, according to commission counsel Meg Babcock. The masters will file a report with the high court, and determine whether any misconduct occurred and if any possible sanction should be issued. Penalties could range from private or public reprimands, suspension, or removal from office.
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  1. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  2. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  3. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

  4. Well, I agree with you that the people need to wake up and see what our judges and politicians have done to our rights and freedoms. This DNA loophole in the statute of limitations is clearly unconstitutional. Why should dna evidence be treated different than video tape evidence for example. So if you commit a crime and they catch you on tape or if you confess or leave prints behind: they only have five years to bring their case. However, if dna identifies someone they can still bring a case even fifty-years later. where is the common sense and reason. Members of congress are corrupt fools. They should all be kicked out of office and replaced by people who respect the constitution.

  5. If the AG could pick and choose which state statutes he defended from Constitutional challenge, wouldn't that make him more powerful than the Guv and General Assembly? In other words, the AG should have no choice in defending laws. He should defend all of them. If its a bad law, blame the General Assembly who presumably passed it with a majority (not the government lawyer). Also, why has there been no write up on the actual legislators who passed the law defining marriage? For all the fuss Democrats have made, it would be interesting to know if some Democrats voted in favor of it (or if some Republican's voted against it). Have a nice day.

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