It was bad enough when Trudy White, the worst judge in Louisiana, was presiding over criminal cases and springing dangerous sociopaths out of jail in ways no other judge could possibly contemplate.
But things are now getting worse, as White will be able to do direct damage to Baton Rouge’s shaky local economy from a seat on the 19th Judicial District Court’s civil division.
State District Judge Lou Daniel, who has served on the 19th Judicial District Court since 1997, is retiring March 31, bringing to three the number of judges on the Baton Rouge-based court who are opting for early retirement this year.
Daniel’s current term doesn’t expire until the end of 2020, so it is anticipated a special election will be held Oct. 12 — the date of the gubernatorial primary election — to fill the unexpired portion of his term. A runoff, if needed, would be Nov. 16.
Judges Todd Hernandez and Mike Erwin, whose terms also expire at the end of next year, previously announced they’re retiring March 31 and Aug. 1, respectively. Special elections to fill their unexpired terms have been placed on the Oct. 12 ballot.
State District Judge Trudy White, one of the 19th JDC’s criminal court judges, is going to move to the civil bench and take over Hernandez’s civil docket. Her move will create a vacancy on the criminal bench, so whoever wins the special election to replace Hernandez will take over White’s criminal docket.
In the meantime, the Louisiana Supreme Court has appointed retired 21st Judicial District Court Judge Bruce Bennett to temporarily handle White’s criminal docket.
It was Bennett who held down White’s docket for three months, from late 2016 into early 2017, when White took an unexplained hiatus.
To call this a disaster isn’t really sufficient. We already know that White is corrupt and treats the law as a plaything. That has terrible effects when applied to criminal law, but as the vast majority of the populace aren’t criminals and White’s alumni are as likely to get themselves killed as to wreak severe harm on large swathes of the population the damage is somewhat containable.
In civil law, she can do a lot worse.
What happens if there’s a major civil trial that goes before Trudy White and she completely botches the case? Or worse, what happens if she gets bought off and rigs a trial? Imagine the scandal that could ensue if a multimillion dollar lawsuit devolves into chaos because a judge suspended multiple times by the Supreme Court for incompetence or worse does her usual treatment.
This will not end well. It will have the effect of running business out of East Baton Rouge Parish. Don’t doubt that for one minute.