Anybody have any sympathy for Judge Kenneth Scheibenberger, who now faces formal charges of judicial misconduct before the Indiana Supreme Court? I have some:
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.
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 ass!" 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. He said to them, "Are you related to that piece of shit? Upstanding citizen, my ass! He'll get his!" or words to that effect.
Judges perhaps more than any other professionals are supposed to leave their personal lives at the door. They're charged with maintaining the dignity of the court and its neutrality. They're supposed to be impartial, logical and free of passion. When we think of actually getting justice from the criminal justice system, we look first to the judges. So the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications can't be faulted for taking the actions it did.
But Scheibenberger let his grief as a parent overwhelm his judicial sensibilities. He believed the man had dealt drugs to his son, Sam, who died in August. A few years ago, he got an admonition from the commission because he go his son's file on a misdemeanor arrest and delayed the case, a clear use of judicial power for personal interest.
I'm not saying the Supreme Court should be lenient with the judge, or even arguing about how good a judge he has or has not been.