Judge suspended over free trip
BATON ROUGE - Judicial officials ordered that a West Baton Rouge judge be suspended for 30 days for improper actions regarding two cases in 2009 and 2010.
Judge Robin Free was ordered Tuesday to pay more than $6,000 to the Louisiana Judiciary Commission for the investigation into his actions.
The Louisiana Supreme Court found Free acted improperly by accepting a free trip to Texas from an attorney who argued a personal injury case before the judge in 2010. Free later awarded a $1.2 million settlement in the case, and commission investigators determined the attorney, Tony Clayton, invited Judge Free during the settlement talks. Free later admitted his actions were a violation.
The high court also found the judge should have acted differently in a 2009 class-action lawsuit in which his mother had a potential interest. Investigators said he didn't know of his mother's stake when the case against Dow Chemical was first brought before him, but should have recused himself when Dow's attorneys brought the connection to his attention.
Free, who presides over the 18th District, was unopposed when running for re-election this past November. The 18th District covers Iberville, Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes.