Boothe unsure of decision regarding Louisiana Supreme Court

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Note: The original version of this story incorrectly described the process by which an interim judge would be appointed in the Seventh Judicial Court. The Louisiana Supreme Court would issue an order assigning a retired judge to fill the seat for a stipulated period of time. We apologize for the inconvenience and are happy to set the record straight.

VIDALIA — Seventh Judicial Court Judge Leo Boothe said he has not yet decided to file for a rehearing that could prevent his one-year suspension from the bench.

The Louisiana Supreme Court issued the suspension recommendation last week after the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana claimed Boothe committed three violations in connection to a 2002 criminal case. Boothe will also be fined $11,731.79.

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The court went against the commission’s recommendation, which suggested Boothe be removed from the bench and ordered to pay the same amount in court costs.

Boothe said he has been discussing the situation with his legal counsel.

“I have several options in this situation, but I haven’t reached a conclusion yet,” Boothe said. “I’m looking forward to the matter being resolved favorably and equitably.”

Boothe’s options include taking the year suspension and returning to finish his term later, early retirement or filing for a rehearing.

Boothe has 14 days from Jan. 29 not including holidays to file for a rehearing against the Supreme Court’s recommendation.

Louisiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Valerie Willard said if no rehearing request is filed, the recommendation will go into effect immediately.

If that happens, Willard said the other judge in the district, Judge Kathy Johnson, could decide to handle both divisions.

Johnson said handling both divisions — Concordia and Catahoula parishes — isn’t an option with the increase in criminal cases she’s seen in the last six years.

“Used to be, 10 or 15 years ago, a judge could of handled both divisions, but I just don’t see that happening now,” Johnson said. “But I really won’t make any decisions until (Boothe) makes his decision.

“The reins are in his hands, as they say.”

Willard said the Louisiana Supreme Court would issue an order assigning a retired judge to fill the seat for a stipulated period of time.

If Boothe chooses to retire, Johnson said a special election would take place to replace that open position.

“It’s his decision, and I wish him the best while he’s making that decision,” Johnson said.

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.