January 22, 2009
A Period Of Unusual Stress
The Louisiana Supreme Court publicly censured a Baton Rouge parish judge in part for conduct committed while presiding over a specially created drug court. The investigation began with a report from the district attorney of a pattern of ordering defendants to pay fines to third parties unrelated to the cases. Additional reports suggested that the judge was diverting fines from their designated recipients and permitted his judicial assistant to have a second job in possible violation of state law.
The court sustaned the findings of its Judiciary Commission and agreed with its censure recommendation. The commission had found the judge's motives "convincingly good" with respect to the fines and noted that the accomodation of the assistant's second job had taken place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when "[i]t was commonly recognized that at that time the citizens and government in Baton Rouge endured unusual stress."
Justice Victory dissented and would impose a "more serious" sanction. (Mike Frisch)
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