Recently retired judge not immune from probe into judicial data breach, lawyer says

By Carrie Bradon | Oct 15, 2018

The recent resignation of the chief judge of Louisiana's Second Circuit Court of Appeal, who according to a posting on retired after he was allegedly involved in creating a hostile workplace for his colleagues, is complicated even more by an investigation of a law clerk who worked for the judge to see if impropriety was at play when computer files with sensitive information were accessed.

Judge Henry Brown announced his retirement Sept. 26 after serving 27 years on the appeals court, leaving much to question about the nature of his resignation after his long career. 

Peter Vujin, a Miami-based attorney, commented on the need to preserve the highest standards when it comes to prosecuting even a judge. 

"When a judge errs, the preservation of our form of government requires decisive actions in order to restore the faith in the rule of law, without which our republic could not function," Vujin said. "As such, state court judges were never immune from damages in a private lawsuit, even though they enjoy broad immunity from most lawsuits."

More important, however, Vujin said, is the fact that judges are not immune from bar and state criminal prosecution if they commit crimes or are found to have engaged in unethical conduct. 

Brown, who has been known for his tough approach to crime, will now be challenged by other justices of the Supreme Court as he is investigated in his involvement in his clerk's accessing of the justices' intranet files where judges' memos and drafts of opinions are kept, the posting said.

Vujin said this situation brings to light the fact that everyone, when charged with criminal activity, is required to answer for their alleged wrongdoings. 

"The fact that a justice ...  is now in a position of a criminal defendant gives credence to the fact that our democratic republic, based upon the rule of law, works, and that no one is above the law," Vujin said.

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