On Monday, November 27, 2023, the Commission on Judicial Conduct of Washington State filed a formal Statement of Charges against Samuel Swanberg, a superior court judge in Benton and Franklin Counties, alleging he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct in several instances.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Judge Samuel Swanberg,” with case number 10717-F-209.

According to the Statement of Charges, Judge Swanberg is alleged to have violated the following rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct:

Rule 1.1 requires a judge to comply with the law.

Rule 1.2 requires a judge to uphold the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and avoid impropriety.

Rule 1.3 prohibits a judge from abusing the prestige of office to advance personal interests or allow others to do so.

The Commission began investigating Judge Swanberg in January 2022 after he self-reported being subject to an Anti-Harassment Protection Order proceeding involving a former romantic partner, S.S., who had been a court employee. That protection order was granted against Judge Swanberg on January 4, 2022.

The Commission alleges Judge Swanberg engaged in a pattern of domestic violence against his former spouse, S.B., over many years involving physical, emotional, and mental abuse. In support of the protection order petition against Judge Swanberg, S.B. filed a sworn declaration detailing abuse by the judge spanning multiple incidents.

In January 2022, Judge Swanberg was criminally charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault for allegedly assaulting S.B. on two occasions in February 2021. He was acquitted of the charges following a jury trial.

The Commission alleges Judge Swanberg’s behavior violated rules requiring a judge to comply with the law and uphold the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

Judge Swanberg is also accused of harassing S.S. after their romantic relationship ended by repeatedly attempting to contact her despite her requests that he stop. Additionally, he is alleged to have improperly used his position as a judge to gain access to the Office of Public Defense in December 2021 in order to pursue S.S. against her wishes.

Judge Swanberg has 21 days to file a written response to the Statement of Charges. If he does not respond, the charges will be deemed admitted. A hearing on the charges will then be scheduled before the Commission. Any disciplinary action would require a recommendation from the Commission to the State Supreme Court.

Judge Swanberg’s courtroom is located at 7122 W Okanogan Pl, Bldg A, Kennewick, WA 99336-2359, and can be reached at 509-736-3071.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.