INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Judge on suspension lands lucrative new job
PLAQUEMINE- A disgraced local judge from the 18th Judicial District who is currently on a year long unpaid suspension for wrongdoing has landed a lucrative new public job.
Robin Free is now the Supervisor of General Services for Iberville Parish and is collecting a $75,000 salary per year. Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso said he knows Free well and decided to hire him to re-write the Parish's handbook and oversee other things in the parish. He intends to use Free's legal expertise.
"I've been life long friends with Robin," Ourso said. "I'm a lot older than Robin. Robin grew up in Plaquemine, I've been friends with him and his family over the years."
Over the past few years, the Investigative Unit has showed you the legal troubles Free ran into. Repeatedly, he went before the State's Judiciary Commission and was suspended twice in recent years for various issues. He admitted to taking an all expenses paid trip to a hunting ranch out of state paid for by attorneys who had pending cases in Free's court. Supreme Court Justices also scolded him for running his courtroom like a theatre and using slang with racial overtones.
Free told WBRZ by phone today, he did not want to talk about his new job because he wanted to keep his family out of the lime light.
"After he got suspended from the judgeship for a year, I didn't want to turn my back on him," Ourso said. "I needed a new handbook at the time. I asked him if he would consider doing this handbook...and figured he could save the parish a lot of money."
Ourso said in addition to writing the handbook, Free will also oversee parish contracts and assist the finance department. Ourso told WBRZ, he expects a lot from his employees and Free is no different.
"I'm standing here in front of this church here, I'm a godly man," Ourso said. "Everybody deserves a chance. He paid his price, a year suspension and the humiliation with his family."
Ourso said he knows that Free will have to recuse himself for any parish government related matters before him when he gets back to the bench. All of that stems from the new conflict that has arisen from his new job.