Louisiana Supreme Court issues one-year suspension for Boothe

Published 12:09 am Saturday, March 16, 2013

VIDALIA — For the first time in more than 20 years, Judge Leo Boothe will not be allowed to hear court cases for the Seventh Judicial Court.

A one-year suspension without pay went into effect today 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 after the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana alleged Boothe committed three violations in connection to the case.

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

Louisiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Valerie Willard confirmed the court stood with the original recommendation of suspension despite Boothe’s February request for a rehearing.

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.

“I’m grateful the Supreme Court did reject the commission’s recommendation, and I appreciate the support of my constituents over the years and the tremendous support I received during this matter,” Boothe said. “It looks like I’m going to have a one-year vacation that I do intend to enjoy because being on the bench for so long, there are a few (things) I’ve neglected.”

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

Boothe said he would return to finish out the remainder of his term after the suspension and is also keeping a close eye on talks of possible legislation that would remove the retirement age for Louisiana judges, which is currently set at 70.

Boothe is 70 years old and thus prohibited from seeking another term under current law.

“I’ll certainly come back to finish out my term, but if they do away with the retirement for judges I can consider my options,” Boothe said. “I’m in good health and good spirits, so if they do it, I’ll exercise my options as far as if I want to run for judge again.”

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.