Judge Disciplined for Jetting to Hunting Ranch With Lawyers

jetThe Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Port Allen district judge Robin Free for thirty days for accepting an “all-expenses paid trip on a private jet to a hunting ranch in Texas” from lawyers involved in cases pending before his court.1 See In re Judge J. Robin Free, 2014-O-1828 (La. Dec. 9, 2014). The court rejected Judge Free’s defense—that he was merely accompanying a friend to advise him as to the suitability of the ranch for purchase—was not believable, and that his testimony in that regard “diminishe[d] his credibility in general.” The court found that Judge Free violated Canons 1, 2, 2A, and 6B(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibit a judge from, among other things, accepting gifts from a person “including a lawyer, whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge.”

Although the court did not discuss it, the lawyers who facilitated Judge Free’s violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct may be subject to discipline as well. Louisiana Rule 8.4(f) provides that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “[k]nowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable Rules of Judicial Conduct or other law.”

  1. The lawyers included David Rumley and Joe Ritch of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Antonio “Tony” Clayton and Cleo Fields of Louisiana.
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