Louisiana Supreme Court to make hearings public for judges accused of wrongdoing

The Louisiana Supreme Court announced Monday that it will begin allowing members of the public to attend hearings against judges who have been accused of misconduct — a major change to a long-standing secretive process — though the high court declined to overturn rules that prevent people who have filed complaints from discussing them.

The high court announced in early March that justices were contemplating Judiciary Commission rule changes after The Advocate and The Times-Picayune published a series of stories revealing how judicial misconduct in Louisiana often remains hidden from the public. The high court’s announcement last month about the possibility of rule changes came as the Legislature was about to convene a session that included multiple bills targeting the Supreme Court’s lack of transparency in misconduct investigations.

The coronavirus outbreak has delayed the legislative session.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson signed an order Monday that said three transparency changes for judicial misconduct proceedings will go into effect May 1. Under the new rules, judicial misconduct investigations will become public once the Judiciary Commission schedules a hearing against a judge and the judge has had the chance to file a response.

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