Judge Trudy White, controversial judge in Baton Rouge, leaving criminal bench for civil court
BATON ROUGE – Judge Trudy White of the 19th Judicial Court will no longer be presiding over criminal cases, WBRZ learned Thursday.
Judge White will instead move to the civil court bench, overseeing over cases involving lawsuits filed among individuals and businesses. White was moved to the civil court area because of the retirement of another judge, Judge Todd Hernandez.
White’s move into tort comes a year after she and other judges discussed her leaving the criminal court.
Then, in March and April 2018, WBRZ reported White had agreed to leave her long-held rule over cases involving suspected criminals. After a few weeks of discussions though, White was not moved.
However, the change made now will have her leaving the criminal arena. Her criminal cases will temporarily be handled by an appointee, Judge Bruce Bennett, of Livingston Parish until an election can be held to fill White’s seat.
White’s authority over criminal proceedings has been nothing short of controversial.
Her politicking decisions were questioned in 2014 when a campaign ad was interpreted as her being light on criminals.
A video in October of that year showed White with Jomo Jenkins inside a courtroom wearing a prison orange outfit. In the video, Jenkins said: " I'm down here at the 19th (Judicial District Court). But check this out: I ain't gonna be here for that long, because Judge Trudy White is fixing to send me back home. So if you want somebody to show you some love, vote for Trudy White on November the 4th."
The video, which was posted on the internet was later removed.
In a bizarre letter written directly to WBRZ three years later, White apologized to constituents about how the video was perceived.
“I understand how… 'show you some love' might be interpreted to mean that I would treat defendants in criminal cases with leniency,” White wrote to WBRZ.
“I regret having made the video and, again, I am sorry for any damage its release caused.”
After the video, White was the focus of controversies about how she set bonds for people arrested for heinous crimes.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit highlighted concerns from crime victims’ families and survivors numerous times over bond amounts set by Judge White.
In March 2018, White appeared to have ignored warnings from another colleague about a suspect known to skip court while out on bond. The suspect, Albert Franklin, was later arrested for killing a police officer in Zachary.
"The system failed [the officer]," Zachary’s police chief told WBRZ then. "[The suspect] shouldn't have been on the street," he said.
In January of this year, WBRZ reported on another suspect who shot a teenage football player while released from custody in a case involving White’s court.
White is scheduled to begin hearing civil cases in about a week.
An election will be held later to fill the open seat.
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