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Court sanctions Allen County judge

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The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended Allen Superior Judge Kenneth R. Scheibenberger for three days without pay as part of an agreement to resolve a judicial misconduct action.

An 11-page order issued Thursday outlines the sanctions and the circumstances of the judge's actions nearly a year ago, and also offers insight into the court's rationale. All justices concurred with the penalty and that proceeding costs are to be assessed against the judge. The parties had agreed to the penalty beforehand.

A full opinion hasn't been issued, but the court will release one "in due course" that includes details such as when the suspension starts, the order says.

Judge Scheibenberger had been set for a full-day disciplinary hearing before three special masters on Nov. 26, but that now won't happen. He was accused in August of misconduct for his behavior Nov. 30, 2007, in a colleague's courtroom. He's accused of suspending his court and sitting in on a sentencing hearing while wearing his robe, then creating a disturbance with deputy prosecutors before verbally berating a defendant in front of that person's family.

According to the statement attached to the order and accepted by the court, the judge's son had died accidentally prior to the courtroom event and Judge Scheibenberger believed at the time that the defendant in that case had some tangential or indirect role in his son's drug use, which contributed to the death. While he didn't intend on any confrontation, the judge and all parties agreed his conduct was in violation of judicial canons.

The parties agreed that a significant mitigating factor in this action was that Judge Scheibenberger was reacting as a grieving parent, that he's accepted responsibility and is remorseful, and that he's "undertaken appropriate measures to address his grief."

However, the parties also agreed that an aggravating factor in this action is a public admonition Judge Scheibenberger received in 2002 for conduct related to a misdemeanor case involving his son. In that action, the judge obtained his son's file from an employee in the clerk's office and made an entry about an upcoming hearing in the case, which was being handled by a magistrate and was continued to allow more time to prepare.

The judge's Fort Wayne attorney, James Fenton, didn't return a phone call immediately this afternoon, and the judge also didn't immediately return a phone message left at his court.

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

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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