Friday, September 29, 2023
The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has dismissed ethics charges against a former judge for conduct in a private matter
Having reviewed and considered all of the evidence presented in this matter and for the reasons outlined above, the Board concurs in the Committee’s recommendation of dismissal. The Board finds that ODC has failed to carry its burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent violated the Rules of Professional Conduct as charged and has failed to meet its burden of proving that Respondent engaged in misconduct that occurred when she was a judge which would have been grounds for lawyer discipline. Therefore, the Board orders that the charges filed against Respondent be dismissed.
The Board finds that the Committee was correct in its analysis of Rule XIX, §6B and its conclusions that while Respondent’s conduct may have constituted violations of Canons 1 and 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct, ODC did not meet its burden of proving violations of Rules 8.4(a) and 8.4(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct which prescribe the misconduct for which discipline may be imposed upon lawyers in Louisiana. The Committee has aptly addressed the issues presented by ODC relating to the alleged rule violations and the Committee’s discussion distinguishing the legal decisions cited by ODC is correct.
The ODC investigation reflects that on July 22, 2020, Respondent submitted a Notice of Candidacy for City Judge, City Court, Division A, City of Lafayette. As a candidate for judge, Respondent was provided with an information packet that included a copy of the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct. Respondent signed for receipt of the packet on July 22, 2020.
On November 3, 2020, Respondent was elected City Judge of Division “A” in Lafayette, Louisiana. On November 6, 2020, as a newly elected judge, the Louisiana Supreme Court Judicial Administrator mailed to Respondent a packet of information; a copy of the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct was included.
During the early morning hours of December 11, 2021, Respondent arrived home with others in her vehicle. Upon arrival, Respondent observed a stranger who, apparently, had entered family vehicles. Respondent’s sons and their friend left Respondent’s vehicle, and the alleged perpetrator was tackled and detained until law enforcement arrived. Upon the arrival of law enforcement, Respondent identified herself as a judge, and an investigation ensued. The alleged perpetrator was taken into custody by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Department.
Later that morning, while at home, Respondent and others viewed a home security video of the incident. This viewing also was videoed, with Respondent and others narrating the events that had occurred earlier that morning. In the video, a male voice states: “And mom’s yelling n****r, n****r.” Respondent then states:
“We have a n****r; it’s a n****r, like a roach.”
The video of Respondent’s use of racial slurs was posted on the internet and widely circulated. The incident drew local and national attention and media coverage.