Longtime Sedgwick County District Court Judge Richard Ballinger died Friday morning after a prolonged illness.
Ballinger, 62, was first appointed to the 18th Judicial District in 1992 when his father retired from the same position and later served as chief judge from 2003 to 2006. Prior to being named a judge, Ballinger was a municipal court judge in Derby and worked as an assistant district attorney in the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.
Known for a genial manner on the bench, Ballinger nonetheless wasn’t afraid to impose tough sentences or even scold law enforcement officials.
In 1993, he sentenced two 16-year-old boys to as long as 61 years in prison for shooting and paralyzing a stranger in a passing truck. He also ordered them to pay $250,000 once they get out of prison to help pay the medical bills of their 16-year-old victim.
"Five different boys were shot at by these kids, " Ballinger said of the defendants in an interview after the hearing. "They represent everything that our society is most fearful of: random violence.”