Louisiana Supreme Court Judge Jefferson Hughes III admitted to miscarriage of justice and agreed to pay more than $ 2,000 for a 2019 visit to the home of a political agent in Hammond who said Hughes gave him had offered $ 5,000 to change allegiance in the race for a different seat. to the highest state jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday approved an agreement between Hughes and the Louisiana Judicial Commission to publicly censor him for violations of several judicial canons.
Hughes, the court’s second-longest-serving judge, admitted to bringing the justice system into disrepute when he met with former Hammond city councilor Johnny Blount on October 30, 2019.
Blount backed Will Crain in a run-off against 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Hans Liljeberg for a vacant seat alongside Hughes in the High Court.
In an affidavit, Blount said Hughes offered him $ 5,000 to transfer his support to Liljeberg and left this business card “to call him if I decided to accept his offer.”
Hughes denied offering Blount a reward, although he admitted telling Blount he might find it more financially rewarding to support Liljeberg.
Crain won the race. He and Hughes were both barred from voting to accept Hughes’ censorship deal.
The Supreme Court ruling said Wednesday that Hughes “recognizes that his conduct and the events that followed have undermined public confidence in the integrity, independence and impartiality of the judiciary and brought discredit on the judiciary “.
Hughes “therefore recognizes that the imposition of discipline is appropriate,” says the ruling.
Justice Scott Crichton wrote the decision. He was joined in the decision to accept the discipline by judges James Genovese, Jay McCallum and Piper Griffin.
Chief Justice John Weimer dissented, arguing the court should hold a public hearing to air the allegations against Hughes.
Crichton’s opinion noted that Hughes, a Republican, has served as a state judge since 1991, moving from a district judge for Livingston Parish to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 and then to the Supreme Court in 2012 .
Hughes was re-elected without opposition in 2018 and will be removed from office at the end of his 10-year term.
Court documents regarding Hughes’ discipline shed no light on previous Judicial Commission and FBI investigations into Hughes, which ended in 2004. Hughes wrote a series of secret apology letters in the early 2000s to people who appeared in his Livingston Parish courtroom regarding his family law case, professing his sadness over the way he had handled their cases.
A former Hammond city councilor claims in an affidavit under oath that Louisiana Supreme Court Judge Jefferson Hughes III paid him a house …
Letters, that The Advocate | The Times-Picayune obtained and reported in 2019, went to families who were in the midst of custody battles. Hughes wrote one to Brenda Nicholson, a grandmother who fought for custody of her grandson amid a child abuse case involving the stepfather.
Hughes had been romantically involved with the lawyer who represented the boy’s stepfather and mother. Nicholson argued that Hughes had jailed her for 11 days because of her personal interest in the custody matter; Hughes defended himself by saying the lawyer dropped the case before making his final decision on custody of the children.
“I am writing to apologize to you,” Hughes later wrote to Nicholson. âI came to the conclusion that my actions were contrary to the search for the truth and that because of my actions justice suffered. For this, I am deeply remorseful.
Hughes wrote a second letter of apology to David Fleming and a third to Fleming’s attorney in 2004, after Fleming also fought for custody of his sons in Hughes’ courtroom. Fleming tried to get Hughes out of the case, but Hughes hit back, filing subpoena requests in higher courts to stay in the custody case.
“I am writing to apologize for any inconvenience, aggravation, extra work or cost that my actions have caused you,” Hughes later wrote to Fleming. “I made mistakes in the way I handled the Fleming v. Fleming case and I am deeply sorry for that.”
The outcome of the Judicial Commissionâs previous investigation into Hughes has remained secret, despite the Louisiana Supreme Court passing a rule change last year that allows for the discussion of Judicial Commission matters once they have passed. files closed. Although Hughes wrote the letters of apology, it is still unclear whether he did so on the orders of the Judicial Commission and whether he received an additional sentence.
Voters had no way of knowing the previous discipline when they elected Hughes to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004, or to the Louisiana Supreme Court for the first time in 2012.
This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.