Judge Henderson won’t contest findings of panel recommending censure

08/27/2014 6:57 AM

08/27/2014 7:39 AM

A Sedgwick County judge is not going to contest the findings of a state panel recommending that he be disciplined for violating judicial conduct rules.

The findings, filed in July, say among other things that District Judge Timothy Henderson “engaged in harassment as well as gender bias by making repeated inappropriate and offensive comments in the presence of female attorneys employed by the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.”

On Monday, Henderson’s attorney, Thomas Haney of Topeka, filed a document with the Kansas Supreme Court saying that Henderson was not filing exceptions to the findings by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications.

The judge is not admitting to the findings, Haney said Tuesday. “The judge wants to get back to judging,” Haney said. “The allegations were all alleged comments made off the bench, and none of them had anything to do with a pending case or anything before the judge.”

The panel has concluded that Henderson violated judicial rules including that a judge “shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett, who brought the original harassment complaint against Henderson, said Tuesday that his office is “respectfully awaiting” the high court’s decision on Henderson. When the Supreme Court will announce its decision is not clear. The panel’s recommended discipline – public censure – is a published reprimand by the Supreme Court and is the least severe sanction it can impose on judges.

The panel also faulted Henderson for sending an e-mail from his personal account to officials with the state Department for Children and Families, which led to a Wichita attorney and his law firm being removed from a DCF appointment list dealing with adult guardianships. The panel found that the judge’s e-mail showed “a negative stereotype and/or a hostility” toward the attorney.

In May, Henderson was reassigned from the juvenile court, where he had been presiding judge, to the civil court department.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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