NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court has denied a
request to hold a new hearing to determine if District Court Judge
Darryl Derbigny will have to repay more than $10,000 in reimbursed
health-care expenses the Court had previously deemed improper.
On March 13, the Times-Picayune reported,
the Court issued a denial to the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana,
which had requested the hearing on Derbigny’s behalf.
In January, the Judiciary Commission recommended
that Derbigny repay insurance benefits he received from a program
called Exec-U-Care. The Commission said that program was a perk
available to members of the judiciary, but that the cost of the
program should have been borne by the judge and not funded at the
court’s expense. The payments to Exec-U-Care were made from a
judicial expense account that is currently funded from court fees
imposed by the judges.
The Commission also ruled that Derbigny’s acceptance of the
benefits amounted to supplemental income beyond that permitted by
Louisiana law. The Supreme Court accepted the repayment
recommendation but determined that Derbigny did not commit
misconduct under either the Code of Judicial Conduct or Article V, §
25(C) of the Louisiana Constitution.”
Dr. Edward E. Chervenak, director of the University of New Orleans
Survey Research Center, and a frequent commenter on court-related
matters, told the Louisiana Record that Orleans Parish judges
are provided with insurance coverage paid for by the state when they
are elected. But Chervenak has no idea why the judge felt the need to
seek additional coverage at the court’s expense or whose idea it
“I can’t answer why judges were offered a choice of outside
policies. Maybe the judges weren’t happy with their existing
policies and thought they could use the judicial expense fund to
supplement their coverage,” Chervenak said. “Once it was started,
it appears to have become an accepted and unquestioned practice.”
Chervenak said the use of the judicial expense fund to pay for
supplemental insurance policies was a widespread practice among
Orleans Parish judges, and the practice predated Derbigny by at least
“The use of the judicial expense fund to pay for
supplemental insurance was institutional as all 13 judges of the
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court were engaged in the practice,”
he said. “It doesn’t appear to have been monitored by the court.
It took a legislative audit to uncover the practice and bring it to
The Commission, in its report, did find that 13 other judges had
also received improper benefits, but will not release any related
information on the judges until their cases are heard by the Supreme
to the New Orleans Advocate, during the hearing, some Supreme
Court justices expressed concern that the Commission was now stating
certain policies and practices, one being the use of the judicial
expense fund to pay for supplemental insurance, are illegal when
previous versions of the Commission said such uses were acceptable.
Chervenak said judges are morally responsible and the use of fines
many levied by the very same judges presents a conflict of interest.
“They are ethically at fault,” he said. “They had the power
to assess fines and fees in their courts and then turn around and use
those funds for their personal benefit.”
to Nola.com, the Supreme Court voted 5-2 in favor of denying the
request for a new hearing.