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Louisiana Record

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Judge's scandal is one more example of Louisiana's lack of judicial transparency, LLAW says

Attorneys & Judges

By Zeta Cross | Mar 11, 2020

Venablecropped
Venable

The tenure of Judge Jessie Leblanc is finally over. The Assumption Parish district judge tendered her resignation at the end of February for sending racist texts and having an affair with Assumption Parish’s Chief Deputy, a scandal that made national news. 

The Louisiana NAACP and Gov. John Bel Edwards had called for Leblanc's resignation. The judge, a married mother of three, sent the texts to her married lover who had replaced the judge in his affections with another mistress. 

Lana Venable of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch said Leblanc’s conduct further weakens the trust that citizens should have in the Louisiana court system while Louisiana judges should be holding themselves to the highest standards of conduct. 

“Increased transparency is key to maintaining the trust and confidence voters have placed in our judiciary,” Venable said. 

Leblanc brought her own misconduct to light in December, when she refused to sign a warrant. The judge blamed her refusal on what she said was a personal relationship that she had with Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean. 

In January, Prejean acknowledged that he had been having an affair with Leblanc. Prejean’s admission caused 600 cases to come under review, since a relationship between a judge and a leading law enforcement officer is prejudicial and unethical. 

Leblanc spent two months denying that she had had an affair. Finally, the racist texts were turned over to WBRZ television’s investigative unit by the Sheriff’s department, resulting in a slew of national news stories. Leblanc’s resignation was tendered a week later. 

Venable said she is concerned with the impact on the state’s reputation. 

“Louisiana’s troubling lack of judicial transparency….helped cement our longstanding reputation as having one of the worst legal climates in the country,” Venable said. 

“Louisiana consistently lands at or near the bottom of most national business climate rankings,” Venable maintains. “Last year Louisiana was ranked as the fifth worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the U.S." 

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Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch

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