November 27, 2007
With Friends Like These
A case decided today by the Louisiana Supreme Court involved a lawyer who, after winning a large judgment on behalf of a client at a bench trial, was solicited by the judge (appropriately named Judge Green) to give a donation to the campaign of the judge's niece for a seat in the Louisiana House. The lawyer gave $800 in cash to the judge, the transaction was videotaped by the FBI as part of "Operation Wrinkled Robe" and the tape was played at the judge's trial on federal bribery and mail fraud charges. A majority of the court found that "[a]ssisting a judge in a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct is very serious misconduct for a lawyer." A suspension of one year and one day was imposed.
Two judges favored a shorter suspension, as the misconduct was "a one-time serious lapse of judgment at the request of a judge he considered a good friend and who was a former colleague when they served as assistant district attorneys." Further, the lawyer admitted the mistake and cooperated fully with the criminal investigation of the judge.
According to news reports, the judge was sentenced to 51 months in prison for the federal conviction. (Mike Frisch)
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