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For one 19th JDC judge, controversy over rulings is nothing new

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BATON ROUGE - When it comes to trial judges, their decisions are usually held in the highest regard. For 19th JDC Judge Eboni Johnson Rose, some of those decisions have seen a lot of pushback.

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This month during a bench trial, Rose convicted a former Baton Rouge Police officer of a crime that doesn't exist, then three weeks later declared him innocent.

Donald Steele was accused of groping a motorist after a traffic stop. She declared him guilty of misdemeanor malfeasance, which isn't on the books. After the state asked her to find Steele guilty of a felony, she declared him innocent

District Attorney Hillar Moore called her unprecedented action "procedurally improper."

It's not the first time one of Rose's decisions have been questioned.

In November 2021, as a brand new judge, Rose ordered Billy Pettice's ankle monitor removed while he was out on bond for murdering his girlfriend. While unmonitored, he attacked another woman and their kids.

In February 2022, she released Luke Simmons on bond for a homicide on Spanish Town Road. He was later picked up for a drive-by shooting on North 19th street.

In February 2023, Rose set a third bond for prolific drug dealer Frank Beauchamp.

During the same month, a jury found a Broadmoor Elementary teacher guilty of aggravated assault after pointing a gun at people driving a car on a flooded street. Judge Rose reversed on procedural grounds and sent jury back to deliberate more. Ultimately, the woman was freed. Thirteen minutes later, Rose called the woman back in and said the jury hadn't intended to fully free her, so she found her guilty of misdemeanors.

An appeals court agreed with Rose's ultimate decision to declare a mistrial.

LSU law professor Ken Levy says though none of this meets the level of misconduct, he does agree that some of her decisions are questionable, particularly when it comes to issuing bail.

"My understanding is Judge Rose has let too many people out who are dangerous. I'm all for second chances and I'm all for reforming the criminal justice system. We throw way too many people in jail as it is, but if they are dangerous, repeat offenders, these decisions are just misguided," he said.

Since criminal judges in the state are elected and there is no recall process, the only option for people unhappy with Rose's judgeship is to vote her out. Her term runs through 2026.

Judge Rose did not return a request for comment.


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