The Oregon Supreme Court censured a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge Thursday for ordering a man enrolled in her drunken driving program to leave a Beaverton bar.
Baker then ordered him to leave the bar and to report to her courtroom the following Monday. The discussion caught the attention of the other patrons in the bar and a waitress thought it was a domestic disturbance, according to the court’s censure.
Although being in the bar put Stebbeds in violation of Baker’s program, the Supreme Court said she didn’t have authority to order him to leave and that during the encounter she failed to “observe high standards of conduct.”
Multnomah County Presiding Judge Dale Koch said the censure is nothing more than a “public slap on the wrist” and would not affect Baker’s career or her ability to serve as a judge.
Baker’s DUII Intensive Supervision Program has been praised for having remarkable success treating repeat drunken drivers, although her techniques upset some of those enrolled in the program.
Participants in Baker’s program are not allowed to be in a bar, even if they aren’t consuming alcohol. Stebbeds said he was at the bar for its $2 dinner specials and was not drinking, according to the court document.
The Supreme Court also said that since Baker was a witness to Stebbeds’ violation, she shouldn’t have presided over his hearing the Monday she ordered him back in court.
Pamela Knowles, Stebbeds’ sister and former director of the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability, filed the complaint against Baker on behalf of her brother. Knowles did not return calls seeking comment on the censure.
Susan Isaacs, director of the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability, said the agency receives about 120 complaints a year but very few result in sanctions by the state Supreme Court. Of the three sanctions — censure, suspension and removal — a censure is the least serious, Isaacs said.