BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A fundraising loophole allows Louisiana lawyers to host campaign events for judges, so one state lawmaker wants to tighten up the way judges can raise money.
Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, said a fundraiser last week by 19th Judicial District Court Judge Janice Clark did not make the judicial side of government look good. Adley said he is concerned attorneys having cases before the very judges they are giving money to does not pass the smell test.
"It appears to me that when people are passing money from one hand to the next in the middle of a trial, that doesn't look good," said Adley. "There is nothing that stops judges from raising money in the middle of a court proceeding. That perception is extremely bad."
Adley said he is referring to Wade Shows, whose name appeared as a host on the invitation. The event, which suggested a $250 donation, was held at a Baton Rouge restaurant.
"I was asked to be on the host committee long before I was assigned that case," said Shows. "I did not go to the event nor have I given Judge Clark any donations."
However, Adley has filed a complaint with the Louisiana Supreme Court.
"It clearly is an attempt to influence the outcome of the current case before Judge Clark's court," the complaint states.
He said he plans on taking care of this issue in the legislature.
"If this is going to be an ongoing problem, it becomes very clear that the court is not policing itself. And, if they are not going to police themselves, then somehow the legislature has to intervene." Adley added.
The outspoken senator from north Louisiana said during the special ethics session a few years back, the judges convinced the legislature they needed to be independent.
"The judges were able to argue their way, saying, 'We are a separate independent branch of government and constitutionally, you cannot pull us into your ethics.' Now, of course, we could say, 'Yes, we believe we can,' but then you have to go to their court for them to disagree with themselves," Adley explained.
Judge Janice Clark did not return messages for comment.