On Monday, October 16, 2023, the Court of Judicial Discipline of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued an order requiring the involved parties to provide evidence and arguments pertaining to the misconduct case of Sonya M. McKnight, a magisterial district judge in Dauphin County.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Sonya M. McKnight,” with case no. 1 JD 21 and 1 JD 23.
The Judicial Conduct Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania filed a complaint against McKnight on September 6, 2023, citing violations of the Rules Governing the Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The complaint alleged that McKnight had granted unearned vacation days to her staff, which the Board considered a form of embezzlement of time. She was also accused of failing to cooperate fully with disciplinary authorities and providing inconsistent responses when questioned about the extra vacation leave. Additionally, the complaint stated that McKnight had prevented a civil complaint from being processed, potentially obstructing the administration of justice. Furthermore, the complaint alleged that McKnight had solicited sales of a product on her social media page, identified as ‘X-it Red,’ which had been characterized as an improper use of her judicial position. She was also accused of failing to give precedence to the duties of her judicial office on specific dates without providing an explanation.
The complaint also raised concerns about McKnight’s involvement in cases with attorney Brian Perry, stating that she had not recused herself from such cases as directed by President Judge John Cherry. The complaint further alleged that McKnight had provided dishonest and non-candid answers in response to the Judicial Conduct Board’s investigation, potentially violating ethical standards.
In a recent development in the case, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Court of Judicial Discipline issued an order on October 21, 2023, requiring the parties involved to provide evidence and arguments regarding three specific matters. These matters include a petition to suspend McKnight with or without pay, a request by the Judicial Conduct Board to appoint counsel for McKnight, and a request by the Judicial Conduct Board to require McKnight to undergo a physical and mental evaluation pursuant to Rule 601(B) by November 8, 2023.
Judge McKnight’s courtroom is located at 1805 North Cameron Street Harrisburg PA 17103 and can be reached at 717-233-3599. Her info can be found on ballotpedia.org.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.