District Judges face Supreme Court for inappropriate behavior
NEW ORLEANS - A pair of District Judges appeared before the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans Tuesday to face possible sanctions for complaints of previous inappropriate behavior.
West Baton Rouge Parish District Judge Robin Free is facing up to a year of suspension along with $11,000 in fines after he was accused by the Judiciary Commission of inappropriate actions involving individuals that appeared before him in court. The commission has leveled accusations of interference in civil and criminals matters before the 18th Judicial District court where Free serves.
Free was suspended without pay for a month in 2014 when it was found he had inappropriately taken a trip paid for by an attorney who had appeared in his courtroom.
He had little to say as court proceedings were carried out in New Orleans on the most recent accusations, and he was quick to leave when the session was adjourned. Free is also accused of a range of offenses including cracking inappropriate jokes, some with racial overtones, from the bench and holding people in contempt illegally. The Justices on hand did not appear amused by what they called the "theatre-style" court Free was running.
That same Judiciary Commission has asked for the suspension of New Roads-based District Judge James Best after he was also accused of unrelated misconduct. Judge Best was emotional as he addressed the Justices at the Louisiana Supreme Court, answering to accusations of mishandling probation for a convicted sex offender that he knew personally from the church he attends.
"Today, I stand before you humbled and humiliated yet sorry and accountable for the poor decisions I made on a routine matter 4.5 years ago," Best said in court.
Free could face up to a year of suspension if found guilty, while Best could be suspended for a month. The court’s decision is expected in the next 12 weeks.
We'll have more details on News 2's evening broadcasts, starting at 4 p.m.
Editor's note: this version corrects errors in the judges' names; any disciplinary action handed down to the judges won't be determined for some time.