Judge Leo Boothe files for rehearing

Published 12:14 am Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vidalia — Seventh Judicial Court Judge Leo Boothe filed for a rehearing Monday to contest a recommendation by the Louisiana Supreme Court that he be suspended from the bench for one year.

The Supreme Court issued the suspension recommendation Jan. 29 after the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana claimed Boothe committed three violations in connection to a 2002 criminal case. Boothe would also be fined $11,731.79 per the Supreme Court’s recommendation.

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.

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Louisiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Valerie Willard confirmed Boothe’s filing and said the court has the following three options in response to the request:

-Grant the rehearing with oral arguments to be scheduled at a later time.

-Grant with language, which would clarify or change the decision.

-Deny the rehearing.

If a new oral argument is scheduled, the judge and the Judiciary Commission would return to court, Willard said.

There is no deadline for the Supreme Court to make a decision on the rehearing.

Boothe’s other options included taking the year suspension and returning to finish his term later or early retirement.

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

“I feel confident that the right thing is going to happen with all of this,” Boothe said Wednesday. “My goal from the beginning was for the truth to be known and for justice to be obtained.”

If the rehearing request is denied, the Louisiana Supreme Court would issue an order assigning a retired judge to fill the seat for a stipulated period of time.

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.

In a 39-page report released in January, the Supreme Court stated it felt the purpose of the code of judicial conduct is “to protect the public rather than to discipline judges.”

“The power to remove from office a sitting judge, and thereby counter the decision of the voters, is most assuredly an awesome responsibility,” the report said. “But the duty to exercise that authority has been vested in, and entrusted to, this court by the people of this state through our constitution, and it is an obligation to the people of this state that we are required to take seriously.”