On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline issued a severe reprimand to former Magisterial District Judge of the Magisterial District Court 15-3-06 Chester County, Michael Cabry for the alleged use of campaign funds for personal matters and for improperly accounting for disbursing funds.

The case is entitled “In the matter of Michael Cabry” with case no 2 JD 21.

The charges cited Rule 1.1 of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges and Article V. 17(b) of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

Requiring magisterial district judges to comply with the law.

Violation of the law by a judge violated this section of the Constitution as well as the particular rule at issue.

In an Opinion and Order, dated October 24, 2022, the respondent was charged with ethical violations for his improper withdrawal of funds from the campaign account.

The filing states:

“In his written plea colloquy, executed September 22, 2021, former MDI Cabry admitted the following:

On or about November 13, 2016[,] through January 13, 2018, the defendant, while a candidate for public office, failed to file appropriate and acCurate campaign reports of expenditures and receipts failed to provide a full and accurate account of expenditures and withdrew funds from his campaign account for purposes unrelated to his campaign. Additionally, the defendant unlawfully took funds from the campaign account and used the funds for personal expenses unrelated to political activity.”

The filing continues:

“Former MDJ Cabry admits he violated Rule 1.1 of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges (requiring magisterial district judges to comply with the law) and Article V, 17(b) of the Constitution of Pennsylvania (violation of the law by a judge violated this section of the Constitution as well as the particular rule at issue.)

At the hearing in this matter, there was some testimony to the effect that MDJ Cabry may have been owed some money by his campaign which might have reduced the amount he illegally took. (Transcript at 103). Nonetheless, MDI Cabry entered a guilty plea to theft by unlawful taking among other offenses and that plea, and its factual predicate is conclusive as to the existence of the theft. Furthermore, after an inquiry from the Court, the parties stipulated the amount of the theft to be $3,254.97. (Pretrial Memo of MDI Cabry at 2).”

In determining the appropriate sanction for the respondent, the Court of Judicial Discipline uses the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. But in this case, they used what is so-called the “Deming Factors”. This is where 10 factors are considered in their application to the case at hand in order to see if the sanction is appropriate. In this case, the respondent has been severely reprimanded.

The Disposition states:

“Former Magisterial District Judge Michael Cabry committed crimes in falsely swearing to the truth of his campaign report and took over $3,000 in a manner in which he was not entitled. He also resigned and admitted his misconduct. The personal losses he suffered along with his sloppy campaign accounting do not excuse, his misconduct. Magisterial District Judge Michael Cabry testified under oath that he would never seek judicial office again. This Court holds him to this and accepts his sworn promise. Accordingly, this Court of Judicial Discipline issues a severe reprimand to Former Magisterial District Judge Michael Cabry.”

Judge Cabry’s info can be found at ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.