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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Close call

The Superior Court Judge race in which incumbent Ken Scheibenberger is being challenged by Wendy Davis and Lewis Griffin was one of the toughest endorsement editorials I've had to deal with in several years. For one thing, it's not the usual political contest we're used to writing about, in which the candidates have specific positions on specific issues. For another, the candidates are restrained by the Indiana Supreme Court in how they can campaign, a handicap not faced by candidates in other types of races. And finally, the judge's competence and fairness on the bench weren't really an issue. The only reason he faces a challenge is because he let his personal life intrude on his public one. So the question is: Were his intemperate actions severe enough to warrant his removal by voters? We finally came down on the side of those voting against him:

 Have members of the public lost faith in the judge to the point that they doubt that justice will be available in his court?

[. . .]

It's a close call, but, sadly, we suspect the judge has earned enough disdain from the public overall to make his job on the bench too difficult.

[. . .]

But decorum


Ken Scheibenberger
Tue, 10/26/2010 - 4:39pm

I obviously disagree. Those dissatisfied are a vocal minority. Hundreds of people have approached me and said they understood and would have probably done worse things. A judge is still a father and is subject to the same emotions as others.

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 5:21pm

I just listened to Pat Miller and some callers on WOWO criticizing the judge for saying that the police and sheriff's departments support him. PM rather sternly implied that the judge claimed at last night's debate that the department's actually and formally endorsed the judge. He added that Kenny Fries and Rusty York have denied any departmental endorsements.

My take is that there was some sloppy communications going on here. I suspect that many of the local officers know and have appeared before Scheibenberger and may have told him privately that he has their support. Before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, it just might be a good idea for Miller to ask KS about the debate and his remarks.

Politics as usual must be examined with great scrutiny in this final week before the door slams on the Democrats.

Lewis Allen
Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:04pm

I listened to the debate on public radio last night, and was impressed by both Scheibenberger and Ms. Davis. (sadly, not so much so by Griffin). I've been suspicious of Davis, and perceived her to be too much of a prosecutor to be a fair judge. Her performance in the debate changed my mind. It's a close call for me, too, but I think I'll stay with Scheibenberger, because, despite his problematic behavior, he demonstrates a fairness that I think is vital to his role. Also, I believe in second chances, and doubt that he would make the same mistakes again.

Ken Scheibenberger
Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:34pm

I guess Pat Miller got it wrong. I NEVER said I was formally or otherwise endorsed by Kenny or Rusty. I said that I had the support of most of the Sherriff's Dept. and FWPD. The event was taped and is on my Facebook site. Check it out. More disinformation by people who try to discredit me.

Leo Morris
Wed, 10/27/2010 - 7:32am

If Davis wins, she would have to give up her prosecutorial perspective, but I think she can, just as Scheibenberger had to give up his defense perspective. One thing that was interesting about the debate was the emphasis all three placed on alternative-sentencing approaches. That's going to be an issue of growing importantance, and it's impressive that all of the candidates have given it seriious thought.

On the support/endorse issue, it's easy to see how "sloppy communications" (to use gadfly's term) could be involved. Being in the editorial-page business, I try to make a careful distinction between those two terms. I don't think most voters do.