Judge Charged with Misconduct
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A Judge who presides over criminal cases in Allen Superior Court faces legal problems of his own.
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications filed formal charges of judicial misconduct against the Honorable Kenneth R. Scheibenberger, the Commission announced today.
The Commission filed a “Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges” with the Clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court accusing Judge Scheibenberger of violating ethical rules for judges.
The charges stem from a November 2007 incident in another judge’s courtroom when Judge Scheibenberger allegedly verbally berated family members of a defendant in court for a sentencing hearing. The statement of charges includes four counts, including failing to uphold the integrity of the judiciary and willful misconduct.
The charging information reads that on November 30, 2007, Judge Scheibenberger suspended his court session and proceeded to the courtroom of Judge Frances C. Gull, Allen Superior Court, for the purpose of observing a sentencing hearing of a defendant in Judge Gull’s court. Judge Scheibenberger sat in the gallery wearing his judicial robe while the man was sentenced for a weapons violation.
The probable cause documents go on to say, as the sentencing hearing concluded, Judge Scheibenberger moved to the front of the courtroom, approached the deputy prosecutor, and created a disturbance during which he told the deputy prosecutor that the defendant was a drug dealer and declared, “Upstanding citizen, my a**!” in reference to a comment he heard during the sentencing. Judge Scheibenberger then turned to the man’s parents, who were seated in the front row. The charges allege that he said to them, “Are you related to that piece of s***? Upstanding citizen, my a**! He’ll get his!” or words to that effect.
We spoke with Judge Scheibenberger Tuesday afternoon.
He said he believes the defendant in that case had dealt drugs to his son Sam Scheibenberger, who died suddenly last summer.
If the case isn't settled, Scheibenberger faces a fact finding hearing before a panel of three judges selected from across Indiana.
He could be found not guilty, but if the charges are substantiated, he could face anything from a simple reprimand to removal from the bench.
A fact finding hearing would likely be held in about 90 days.
Scheibenberger is presiding over the upcoming trial of former Fort Wayne Mayoral candidate Matt Kelty, who faces felony charges of filing fraudulent campaign finance reports and perjury.