Judge Boothe returns to bench in week

Published 12:04am Saturday, March 8, 2014

Vidalia — The longest serving judge in Seventh Judicial Court history will return to the bench in a week following a one-year suspension issued by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

A one-year suspension for Judge Leo Boothe without pay went in effect March 16, 2013, after a series of hearings and proceedings with the Louisiana Supreme Court over Boothe’s actions in a 2002 criminal case.

The Supreme Court originally issued a suspension recommendation Jan. 29, 2013, after the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana alleged Boothe committed three violations in connection to the case.

In addition to the suspension, Boothe was also fined $11,731.79 per the Supreme Court’s recommendation.

Louisiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Valerie Willard confirmed the one-year suspension ends March 15. The court went against the commission’s recommendation, which suggested Boothe be removed from the bench for good and ordered to pay the same amount in court costs.

Boothe said he’s enjoyed his “vacation” away from the bench, which has allowed him to tend to his livestock and spend time watching his son, Wyatt, win an MAIS Class A state championship in football and play in the MAIS overall tournament in basketball with Trinity Episcopal Day School.

“It gave me a lot of flexibility to spend time watching him play in all of those games, so I had a lot of fun doing that,” Boothe said.

“But I’m looking forward to getting back.”

Boothe said he was looking forward to returning to finish out the remainder of his term once the suspension ends.

“I didn’t know how different my life would be until I got on this little vacation,” Boothe said.

“I’ve kind of gotten into it and enjoyed my time, but I missed a lot of my friends, and I’m ready to be back.”

The six-term judge’s term ends Dec. 31, 2014.

The commission alleged Boothe committed the following violations after granting a motion to reduce defendant James Skipper’s 25-year jail sentence to 12 years with credit for time served:

• Having the reconsideration hearing without jurisdiction.

• Failing to recuse himself.

• Engaging in improper ex-parte communications.

The Louisiana Supreme Court selected three retired judges to serve during Boothe’s one-year suspension.

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