News

Tri-Cities judge’s resignation won’t stop WA judicial hearing on harassment, DV claims

A Tri-Cities’ judge’s decision to resign doesn’t stop a disciplinary hearing scheduled for subsequent month.

While it’s not clear what self-discipline Judge Sam Swanberg might probably face, the Commission on Judicial Conduct hearing remains to be set for May 20.

“It’s pretty momentous for the commission to take action and to leave that without resolution is pretty problematic,” Reiko Callner, the fee’s govt director, instructed the Tri-City Herald.

But now Swanberg doesn’t plan to be there, stated his lawyer Scott Johnson.

Swanberg introduced late Thursday that he’ll resign May 17 from his place as certainly one of seven Benton-Franklin Superior Court judges and returned to practising legislation.

He will go away the place simply days earlier than eight members of the fee are anticipated to listen to testimony on whether or not he violated three of the codes that information judicial conduct in Washington state.

Swanberg is accused of breaking the legislation, appearing in a method that harm the general public’s belief in judges and utilizing his workplace to advance his private pursuits, in keeping with an announcement of expenses filed by the fee late final 12 months.

But Callner instructed the Herald Swanberg’s determination to step away from the bench doesn’t stop the method.

There would have to be an settlement between the fee and choose that might “impose any terms and conditions deemed appropriate by the commission.”

Without an settlement in place, the fee’s hearing proceeds as deliberate.

Callner stated it’s essential for the method to proceed to handle the actions of judges by both fixing their conduct or giving them some public accountability.

It additionally has the impact of exhibiting different judges what conduct is unacceptable, she stated.

Superior Court judge Samuel Swanberg presides over a mid-February, 2024 hearing recently in Benton County at the Benton County Justice Center in Kennewick. Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.comSuperior Court judge Samuel Swanberg presides over a mid-February, 2024 hearing recently in Benton County at the Benton County Justice Center in Kennewick. Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.com

Superior Court choose Samuel Swanberg presides over a mid-February, 2024 hearing not too long ago in Benton County on the Benton County Justice Center in Kennewick. Bob Brawdy/[email protected]

Johnson stated the choose has tried to work with the fee to achieve an settlement that included him resigning from the place. Swanberg was prepared to stipulate to “the conduct he actually did,” stated Johnson.

But Johnson stated he was not prepared to confess to acts of home violence, which he was acquitted of.

“From the moment Judge Swanberg was acquitted in Franklin County, the commission has been hell-bent on trying to undo what a fair, impartial, and independent jury concluded,” Johnson instructed the Herald in an e mail.

“The commission is now willing to go so far as to have a show trial that is not fair, that is not impartial, and that is not independent, in order to get their desired result.”

Judge Sam Swanberg gestures with his hands to help describe the layout of his house while answering questions by his defense attorney Scott Johnson while giving testimony in a Franklin County courtroom during his trial in 2022. Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.comJudge Sam Swanberg gestures with his hands to help describe the layout of his house while answering questions by his defense attorney Scott Johnson while giving testimony in a Franklin County courtroom during his trial in 2022. Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.com

Judge Sam Swanberg gestures along with his palms to assist describe the format of his home whereas answering questions by his protection lawyer Scott Johnson whereas giving testimony in a Franklin County courtroom throughout his trial in 2022. Bob Brawdy/[email protected]

Judge accusations

The judge’s troubles began in late 2021 when a former girlfriend asked for an anti-harassment order in Benton County to maintain him from bothering her. The two began relationship that spring when she labored for the Franklin County Clerk’s Office in Pasco.

As a part of that case, his ex-wife Stephanie Barnard, now a state legislator, stated she suffered years of mental and physical abuse at his palms. They’d been married 33 years and have six kids.

While Swanberg didn’t combat the ex-girlfriend’s anti-harassment order, he denied abusing Barnard.

Her accusations led to a Franklin County sheriff’s investigation and two expenses of home violence assault. He was acquitted of the costs in 2022.

Judge Sam Swanberg, right, confers with his defense attorney Scott Johnson before the jury enters a Franklin County courtroom. Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.comJudge Sam Swanberg, right, confers with his defense attorney Scott Johnson before the jury enters a Franklin County courtroom. Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.com

Judge Sam Swanberg, proper, confers along with his protection lawyer Scott Johnson earlier than the jury enters a Franklin County courtroom. Bob Brawdy/[email protected]

After the judicial conduct fee carried out its personal investigation, it began disciplinary proceedings.

Nearly a 12 months later, the fee believes it has sufficient proof to stage expenses towards Swanberg for violating the code of judicial conduct. Johnson beforehand identified that the costs are solely allegations as a result of Swanberg was acquitted.

Commission hearing

While Johnson claims the results of the hearing is a foregone conclusion, Callner stated it’s removed from that and it’s fairly attainable that fee members will decide one thing else.

She stated there have been hearings the place the fee discovered the choose didn’t violate the foundations.

The fee’s cost “is to maintain the public trust and confidence in the independent, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.”

“You should be able to come before any judge in any court and expect to have your conflict resolved fairly and consistently no matter who you are,” she instructed the Herald. “Judges have to protect public trust and confidence in those things.”

While Johnson has accused the fee of utilizing the hearing to sidestep the Franklin County verdict, Callner stated the objectives of the hearing are totally different than the prison trial. They are solely involved with how Swanberg could or could not have violated ethics guidelines.

What will occur

At the hearing, the fee might want to persuade a majority of the members that Swanberg took the actions he’s accused of and that they violated the foundations judges should comply with, Callner beforehand instructed the Herald.

They have to satisfy the usual of “clear, cogent and convincing” proof, which is a decrease customary than the prison customary of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” she stated.

After the May hearing, the members will deliberate and are available to determination. Commission guidelines require the choice to be offered publicly throughout an everyday or particular fee assembly.

The members don’t all must agree on the ruling, and any member can file a dissent.

They can resolve to both dismiss the costs or admonish, reprimand or censure a choose. An admonishment is a written warning, whereas a reprimand requires some remedial measures.

The highest stage of punishment — censure — can contain suspension or removing from the bench. Any determination involving suspension or removing should be authorised by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Swanberg can also attraction the fee’s determination to the state Supreme Court

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button