ILNews

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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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