This afternoon, at 1:30 in the Commissioners Conference Room, the Allen County Election Board meets to decide what action, if any, should be taken as the result of an anonymous complaint filed against sitting Judge Ken Scheibenberger.
The text of the complaint is as follows:
I am an attorney in Allen County) Indiana and I am active in both the civil and criminal arena. Rule 8.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct require that a lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness. or fitness as a lawyer shall inform the appropriate professional authority. Subsection (b) provides that a lawyer who knows that a judgeÂ has committed a violation of the applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge’s fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority. I believe that Kenneth R. Scheibenberger, Judge of the Allen Superior Court, has committed such violations.
I am not filing a complaint against him. I am complying with Rule 8.3 by reporting it to you and allowing you to conduct the appropriate investigation. I am sending this information both to the appropriate disciplinary commission that deals with judges and I am also sending it to the Allen County Election Board for the reason that I believe that the conduct violates election laws.
I believe that Judge Scheibenberger has engaged in campaigning for his reelection as judge of the Allen Superior Court while on county time. On Monday, August 16, 2010 he appeared at the Mayor’s breakfast for black expo week. He acknowledges same on his Facebook page, He arrived in his courtroom at 9:41am which can be continued by the triggering of the digital recording device maintained by his court reporter. The Allen Superior Court commences all court bearings at 8:30am. Judge Scheibenberger, on his own, advances his calendar on a daily basis to 9:00am. On August 16 he had thirty-four cases set with thirteen different defense lawyers. There were seven prisoners in the courtroom at the scheduled time the court was to commence, all of whom were removed by the Sheriff and returned to the holding cell when it was determined that Judge Scheibenberger would not arrive on time. In addition to the prisoners, there were approximately forty to fifty civilians in the courtroom waiting to observe the proceedings. Presumably these were friends and family members of those persons who had business to conduct before the court There were a total of approximately twelve to fourteen prisoners. There were thirteen or more defense attorneys scheduled to appear before him that day and multiple prosecutors. There were four or five Sheriff Deputies acting as courtroom security and prisoner transport There were four or five other county employees present including someone from probation, the public defenders office and the work release/home detention programs.
I believe that he violated cannon four of the Code of Judicial Conduct and that his campaigning while on county time was a violation of the election laws. I will let you decide the specific violations, if any.
The second violation occurred either Sunday or Monday night. I have no personal knowledge of this conduct but only as reported to me. Apparently Judge Scheibenberger appeared on a local radio show and was interviewed by WOWO. During the course of that interview he applauded the efforts, professionalism and trial abilities of public defenders and defense attorneys who appear before him but was highly critical of both the elected prosecutor and her chief deputy. He indicated that the Prosecutor’s Office lacked leadership. With a broad stroke, he then commented as to the legal abilities and professionalism of the deputy prosecuting attorneys who appear before him. I believe that his public comments on the integrity, professionalism and legal abilities of other attorneys is detrimental to the practice of law.
The third possible violation I have is that Judge Scheibenberger maintains a Facebook page. It is my understanding that he regularly updates his Facebook page to reflect his campaign efforts. The incident with regard to the Mayor’s breakfast on black expo appeared on his Facebook page well before the close of business on Monday August 16. He uses a county computer to update his Facebook page and does it on county time.
I am unable to identify myself to you because of the fact that I regularly appear before this Judge. I would indicate to you that if my identity were to become known, I would fear for retaliation and retribution because of his general reputation that he would strike out at those who are negative towards him.
Judge Scheibenberger’s Facebook page is non-private – you can view the post regarding the mayor’s breakfast that he attended. The timestamp from facebook is after 8:30 pm and that is not the county’s time. It’s very clear and there is no way to manipulate such posts via facebook.
Abby is correct. But look at the other hundred or more posts by him on his judge Facebook page that are between 8:30 and 5:00 pm Monday thru Friday. Why should the taxpayers of Allen County be paying for him to campaign?
Judge Scheibenberger is not the only person with admin rights to the page. I have admin rights as well, and I make posts on the page.