Couldn’t judges better utilize expense fund?
An article published this week in The Daily Advertiser highlighted just how much money was wasted on judicial expense accounts by 14 judges in the 15th Judicial District, which includes Acadia Parish, between 2008-2012.
If you were hoping money would be better utilized by a judge, think again.
The wasteful spending largely came from the 15th Judicial District expense fund. According to state law, the fund is maintained with civil and criminal court fees and is controlled by the local judges. Some of the Advertiser’s report noted that several thousand dollars were used for basic office supplies such as staples, paper, ink, internet access, postage and the like.
But with annual base salaries of more than $136,000, the judges’ positions still gave them access to a number of perks.
While district judges Edward Rubin and Durwood Conque spent less than $1,000 in one year (2008-2009) on travel for training trips and seminars, Edward Broussard spent $6,982 in the same year.
The judges also enjoyed hearty meals while working, including “meals in district.” Some judges charged more than $3,000 for meals while Herman Clause and Marilyn Castle charged no food at all. Broussard also paid $1,340 for his portrait, which included $960 for four pictures frames and mats to install the portraits.
Judges Thomas Duplantier and Rubin spent $1,882 combined to maintain aquariums in their judicial offices. Duplantier alone spent more than $1,300 from the expense fund on his office aquarium.
While the spending is not illegal, certainly the judges could be better stewards of these funds instead of sinking money accumulated through court costs and fines into aquariums and picture frames.
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