NEW ORLEANS – A judge is seeking declaration that an alleged investigation and disciplinary actions of the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana was unconstitutional.
Judge John Doe filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Louisiana on Feb. 24 against The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana and members of the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana for alleged violations of his 14th Amendment rights of due process.
Judge John Doe asserts that he/she was the subject of two different investigations by the commission and its members in June 2012 and August 2012, in which the commission allegedly disclosed that the judge allegedly violated Louisiana’s Code of Judicial Conduct. The commission and members allegedly admonished and cautioned the judge. Such actions, the judge asserts, were forms of discipline.
However, the judge alleges that the commission does not have the power to discipline judges, but can instead only recommend disciplinary actions. The judge also alleges that the commission and its members either never held a hearing or held a closed and secret ex parte hearing before and after illegally disciplining the judge. The judge claims that he/she was not afforded the opportunity to present a case, examine witnesses, and/or issue discovery before the commission made their findings. Furthermore, the commission allegedly never sought to have the Louisiana Supreme Court look into these findings and issue disciplinary actions.
The judge alleges that these actions denied him/her due process and violated his rights. The judge sought a review of the actions but the Louisiana Supreme Court allegedly denied it in June 2015. The commission then allegedly proposed new revisions to Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XXIII and the Rules of the Judiciary Commission on Sept. 28, 2015, as a direct response to the grievances of the judge which gave the commission the authority to caution and admonish a judge and allows a judge to have a hearing if he or she is cautioned or admonished, which was never afforded to the plaintiff previously.
The judge is asking the court for a jury trial, declare that the commission and its members violated the judge's 14th Amendment rights, enjoin the defendants from referencing the admonishment and caution they issued against the judge, make the defendants responsible for the attorney fees, and award any other relief deemed just. The plaintiff is represented by Normand F. Pizza and Thomas S. Schneidau from Milling Benson Woodward LLP in Mandeville.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Case number 2:16-cv-01563-CJB-KWR