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Judge Censured for Giving Defendant Can of Beans

June 25, 1985

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ A judge was censured Monday for presenting a defendant with a can of beans at his sentencing and granting her clerk special rights so she could visit an inmate with fewer restrictions than normal.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Cheryl Hendrix was ″careless but not corrupt,″ the state Supreme Court said in a 4-0 decision. ″It was, at best, a series of thoughtless acts by a judge who had apparently forgot the position she held and the consequence of her actions.″

Ms. Hendrix in August 1983 bought a can of beans and presented it to Leo Strange while sentencing him for attempted robbery of a convenience store. Strange had paid for a can of pork and beans, tried to rob the cashier and fled without the money or the beans.

″I hope you enjoy them, sir,″ she said, and directed a deputy sheriff to put the can in a locker with Strange’s belongings while he served his sentence.

The high court called Ms. Hendrix’ statements flippant.

″We have tried to discern from the judge’s remarks a moral lesson or message that she might have been trying to impart to the defendant,″ said the court’s opinion, written by Justice James Duke Cameron. ″We are unable to discern any such message.″

The court also censured the judge for signing an order drafted by deputy clerk Brenda Barnes that granted Ms. Barnes privileged visitor status at the county jail. The status lifted limits on the number or length of visits that could be made.

Ms. Barnes wanted to visit Robert Tuzon, who had been convicted of murder and had been moved from the state prison to facilitate his filing of petitions seeking a reduction in his sentence.

Calls to Ms. Hendrix and her attorneys went unanswered Monday afternoon.

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