No public explanation was given in mid-November when state District Judge Trudy White embarked on a three-month leave of absence, and none was offered Monday when the Baton Rouge jurist returned to the 19th Judicial District Court from her paid hiatus.
"Good morning everyone. I'm Trudy M. White, and I'm back. It's so good to be back," she said after entering her sixth-floor courtroom in the 19th Judicial District Courthouse.
White, who has not commented publicly why she was off from Nov. 14 through Sunday, offered no explanation for her absence when she took the bench Monday morning.
"I have no comments," she said later in the day in a text to a reporter with The Advocate.
Nineteenth Judicial District Judge Trudy White's abrupt and unexplained three-month paid lea…
Valerie Willard, deputy judicial administrator and public information officer for the Louisiana Supreme Court, said the high court had no statement or comment on White's return.
Retired 21st Judicial District Judge Bruce Bennett handled White's docket while she was away. He was appointed by the Supreme Court, which has not disclosed the reason for her leave of absence.
White, a former Baton Rouge City Court Judge, has served on the 19th Judicial District Court since 2009. She was re-elected in 2014.
Her opponents in that election, Gideon Carter III and the late state Rep. Alfred Williams, sharply criticized her during the campaign for appearing in a video -- inside a courtroom -- with a man in an orange prison jumpsuit who promoted her candidacy. White has said she did not authorize the release of the video with comedian Jomo Jenkins.
White pointed to her judicial experience and integrity during her re-election effort.
Media reports last year called into question why White allegedly repeatedly orders and forces defendants appearing before her to use a specific home supervision company called RHI. The firm's owner, Cleve Dunn Sr., and his son have worked for her judicial campaigns, according to the reports.
White has cited the state's Code of Judicial Conduct in declining to comment on the matter.