- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Latest on suspended Louisiana judges (all times local):

3:48 p.m.

The state Supreme Court has suspended two judges without pay - one for a year, the other for 15 days.

Judges Robin Free and James Best are both from the 18th Judicial District.

The high court suspended Free for four violations, including interrupting a meeting between prosecutors and a victim’s family and making inappropriate comments. Two other violations involved contempt of court findings against misdemeanor defendants. The fourth violation involved inappropriate comments in seven cases.

It was the second disciplinary action against Free in two years.

Two judges agreed that Free violated judicial rules and the Constitution, but said the penalty is too harsh.

Best was suspended for ending probation early for a sex offender who was in a church choir directed by Best. Two judges said Best’s suspension should have been longer.


2 p.m.

A state judge has been suspended without pay for 15 days for ending probation early for a sex offender who was in a choir directed by the judge.

The Louisiana Supreme Court cut in half the suspension recommended by the state Judiciary Commission for 18th District Judge James Best, who held a probation hearing for Antonio Garcia without notifying prosecutors who handled the case.

Two justices dissented, saying the penalty was too lenient.

Garcia had pleaded guilty to indecent behavior with a juvenile, for emails and texts exchanged with a 16-year-old cheerleader at the school where he was assistant cheerleading coach.

The ruling says Best reinstated Garcia’s probation at the request of the state attorney general’s office. That request was filed the day of a news report about the termination.

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