Seventeenth Judicial District - Adams County Court Judge
Honorable Robert Joseph Steinborn
Retention Year: 1990
Recommendation: No Opinion
Judicial Performance Commission’s recommendation: No Opinion
Judge Steinborn graduated from the law school at the University of Miami in 1976. He went to work for the Adams County district attorney’s office. In 1977, where he rose to the position of chief deputy district attorney. He was appointed to the county court bench in 1984. He spent about a year civil cases. From mid-1985 to the present, he has presided over traffic and misdemeanor cases and preliminary hearings in felony cases.
Judge Steinborn was viewed as having adequate knowledge of the law. However, significant percentages of the respondents to the questionnaires raised serious and pervasive questions about Judge Steinborn’s demeanor. Many thought he frequently rude, some adding he was angry and sometimes even verbally abusive to people in the courtroom.
Apparently as a result, many of the respondents voted Judge Steinborn should not be retained on the bench. Of the attorneys, nine favored retention, 14 opposed retention and four had no position. Three staff members thought he should remain as a judge, six felt he should not continue on the bench, and seven had no opinion. Twelve police officers supported his continued presence on the bench, 14 opposed it, and two had no opinion. The probation officers and social services caseworkers were split evenly between recommending and opposing retention.
On the other hand, the jurors who provided responses seemed to like Judge Steinborn, 24 thought he should continue on the bench, one felt he should not remain as a judge, and five took no position.
As could be predicted from this information, the written comments about Judge Steinborn were dominated by criticisms of his demeanor. Some sought a balanced view, like: “Judge Steinborn has a very volatile personality. Often he is very effective, while at other times his rage gets in the way of administering justice.”
Others were purely negative: “Robert J. Steinborn definitely does not belong on the bench. His demeanor is totally unacceptable.” Or, “This is a very angry man who is mad at the world and it shows in his interactions with employees, defendants, attorneys, etc.”
There were favorable comments like: “Impressed me as a fair and impartial judge who has knowledge and control of his courtroom.”
Because of the consistency of these responses, the members of the commission asked Judge Steinborn about these criticisms of his behavior. He answered that sometimes he knew he was rude and he was working on improving his demeanor. However, he added that, in other situations, he intentionally was curt or abrupt with people in order to follow his orders and recommendations.
The members of the commission were divided evenly over whether Judge Steinborn should remain on the bench. Four members thought Judge Steinborn should be retained. While they recognized Judge Steinborn’s demeanor was a fundamental deficiency, they also noted he seemed to do certain parts to his job capably. They concluded while Judge Steinborn’s behavior in some instances could be viewed as creating the appearance of injustice, he was, in actuality, predominately fair.