Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Judge resigns leadership post after ethics panel’s findings

May 25, 2006

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— The chief judge of the Sedgwick County District Court has resigned the leadership post after a judicial ethics panel cited him for encouraging another judge's relationship with an employee.

Judge Richard Ballinger, who also was admonished for fraternizing with courthouse employees, will remain a trial judge.

He will give up his current job, primarily an administrative position, effective June 1.

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Kay McFarland received Ballinger's letter of resignation Tuesday. In it, Ballinger said he wants to spend more time with his children and work as a trial judge.

"I will be eager to wake up in the mornings and look forward to working in the courtroom again," Ballinger wrote.

Ballinger, 54, was the subject of a rare cease-and-desist order in April from the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications. One month earlier the commission admonished Judge Warren Wilbert for pursuing "a personal relationship with a subordinate employee beyond the appropriate boundaries" of professional conduct.

Both orders were related to a sexual harassment complaint filed against Wilbert by a courthouse employee.

After the order to Wilbert, he was transferred out of hearing divorces and other cases involving domestic relations.

Ballinger has been on the district court bench since 1992 when Gov. Joan Finney appointed him to serve the remainder of his father's term upon his retirement.

Ballinger, previously a municipal judge in Derby, had helped lead Finney's election campaign two years earlier.

The younger Ballinger won a contested election two months after his appointment. He had served as chief judge since January 2003.

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