An Allen County judge sanctioned as a result of his conduct in a fellow jurist's courtroom will serve a three-day suspension without pay beginning Feb. 11, the Indiana Supreme Court announced today.
Allen Superior Judge Kenneth R. Scheibenberger agreed with the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications that the three-day suspension was an appropriate sanction in the matter. Judge Scheibenberger faced discipline for suspending his court session to attend the sentencing hearing in another judge's courtroom of a person he believed was indirectly involved in his son's drug use. Drugs had contributed to his son's accidental death a few months before the sentencing hearing. The judge also created a disturbance with deputy prosecutors and yelled at the defendant in front of his family.
Judge Scheibenberger's actions violated Cannons 1(A) and 2(A) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Supreme Court found mitigating factors to be the judge was a grieving parent, he didn't intend to confront the defendant, that he fully cooperated with the commission, and has undertaken measures to address his grief. The high court also found an aggravating factor to be his public admonition in 2002 for taking judicial action in a case in which his son was charged in Allen Superior Court with a misdemeanor.
In addition to the suspension, the costs of the proceeding are also assessed against Judge Scheibenberger.