WILKES-BARRE - The trial of a Luzerne County judge accused of professional misconduct will reconvene later this month after a defense request to toss the case was denied.

Ann Lokuta, who has been on the county bench since 1992, faces potential penalties ranging from a reprimand to removal from the bench.

In September, former employees told a three-judge panel of the state's Judicial Conduct Board that Lokuta was an overbearing and abusive boss. They testified that she snapped over minor issues, compromised security in the courtroom, and had a former employee do chores at her house.

The trial broke and was scheduled to resume this month.

In the interim, Lokuta's attorney, Louis Sinatra, filed court papers saying the conduct board's deputy chief counsel, Francis J. Puskas II, had failed to prove his case. Sinatra argued that the case consisted of gossip and innuendo and that the charges should be dismissed.

But Richard Sprague, who presided over the judge panel, denied the request Friday.

In September, Lokuta's longtime executive secretary described how the judge piled on work assignments with unrealistic deadlines, incessantly criticized her performance, and questioned her intelligence.

The defense noted that the executive secretary did not mention the frustrations in her 2001 resignation letter. They also cited an August 2002 letter in which she said she missed her job.

Another former employee testified that Lokuta assigned her to do yard work and keep her ailing mother company while she was being paid by the county.