What happened to civility?

September 18, 2008
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We’ve got another sitting judge in trouble for his actions.

Howard Superior Judge Stephen Jessup received a public admonition after storming over to the prosecuting attorney’s office trying to find out where the deputy prosecutor was who was supposed to be in his courtroom that day and accusing the attorney of being on drugs.

He didn’t have any knowledge deputy prosecuting attorney did drugs. Reached by telephone this afternoon, Judge Jessup told Indiana Lawyer that he could not comment on specifics of the disciplinary action or the deputy prosecutor involved, though he did confirm that he's recused himself from cases involving that attorney.

Then, we have Allen Superior Judge Kenneth Schiebenberger, who went to another judge’s courtroom – while in his judicial robe – and verbally berated members of a defendant’s family at a sentencing hearing. His case is before a master’s panel appointed by the Indiana Supreme Court.

I know, I know … judges are human, but when they take on the role of judge, they are held to a high standard to be civil when working with others in the legal community. They shouldn’t interrupt business being conducted in another judge’s courtroom nor should they accuse an attorney of illicit behavior because he didn’t show up to court and sent someone else in his place.

Indiana judges are nationally recognized for their civility and have a good reputation in the legal community. Let’s try to keep it that way.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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