Not that our readers don’t already know Trudy White, the previously-suspended judge of the 19th Judicial District Court’s criminal division, is terrible. But an item surfaced last week just after we had posted an update on the awful Earl Coleman case, in which White doesn’t seem to see the need to incarcerate a convicted child rapist with any degree of haste despite the fact he’s living just down the street from his victim and her family, there was this…
A rare case that caused outrage has concluded with a reinstated murder conviction that will send a convicted man to prison for the rest of his life.
The case was profiled in a report by the 9News Investigators, which took a look into some of Judge Trudy White’s cases.
In September of 2015, Derrick Bland was unanimously convicted of second degree murder by a jury in the shooting death of James Stockton. However, Judge White overruled the verdict and changed it to negligent homicide.
White said Bland was drunk and that the state did not prove that he had specific intent to kill Stockton. “We have been going through so much since we lost the king of our family,” said Stockton’s sister, Rosalind Ford.
Ford says her family finally has peace and her brother can rest now that the man accused of killing him will spend the rest of his life behind bars. “We’re a close bonded family, so life has been tough without my brother,” she added.
Second degree murder requires a person to spend the rest of their life in jail, while negligent homicide only has a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. After the ruling, East Baton Rouge Parish DA Hillar Moore brought the case to an appeals court to try to reverse Judge White’s ruling.
“It’s extremely rare for a court to take a verdict away from a jury, particularly in criminal cases. I’ve seen it maybe in some civil cases, but particularly with jury verdicts in criminal cases, extremely rare. Maybe a handful of cases in the 40 years that I’ve heard of,” said Moore.
The appeals court issued its ruling, saying “we reverse the trial court’s ruling granting the motion for post-verdict judgment of acquittal, reinstate the jury’s verdict finding defendant guilty of second-degree murder.”
The brand of malpractice Judge White has made a pattern of isn’t just injurious to the cause of justice, it’s frightening to law and order. We won’t repeat some of the things said by Stockton’s family about the case, because they’re emotionally-driven even a couple of years after the fact, but in cases like this one and in the Earl Coleman case there is a real danger of vigilante justice – when a judge inexplicably refuses to recognize and punish the clear guilt of a criminal in an outrageous crime with a clear victim, the victim or his survivors lose faith in the law and are tempted toward revenge. That’s not to excuse those actions or to predict the Stockton or Coleman family are going to do something, but it is to say that we want the law and those enforcing it to be the principal actor all involved are concerned with when it comes to dealing with criminal wrongs.
And when a Trudy White turns the law into a circus, and people don’t think there will be justice found in her courtroom, that’s how you get vengeance and blood feuds and chaos on your streets.
Something terrible will eventually happen as a result of this judicial idiocy, and when it does the Louisiana Supreme Court will probably regret merely suspending White for 90 days last fall.