In his June 25 commentary “Contributions can wreck scales of justice,” guest columnist Ben Fuchs suggested that the legal system in Louisiana is inherently corrupt because attorneys are permitted to appear before judges whose campaigns they supported. What Mr. Fuchs unfortunately failed to disclose to your readers is that judges in Louisiana are subject to some of the strictest ethical standards in the United States and that his demands for transparency and mandatory recusal of conflicted judges were addressed in Louisiana years ago.
For example, judicial campaign committees in Louisiana must disclose the source of all financial contributions they receive. This information is already readily available to the public online at www.ethics.la.gov. Judges also are strictly prohibited from personally soliciting campaign contributions and are required by the Code of Judicial Conduct and constitutional law to recuse themselves whenever an attorney or litigant with a personal stake in a case has had a significant and disproportionate influence in placing the judge on the bench.
There is room for legitimate debate and differences of opinion over whether judges should be elected or appointed. But there is no place for casting aspersions on our judges or questioning their commitment to the rule of law. Louisiana assigned home-cooking justice to the relics of history a long time ago and that is the story we should be telling if we want to attract long term financial investment and promote economic development in Louisiana. Tearing down Louisiana in the name of saving her is never the answer.
Mark A. Cunningham
Louisiana State Bar Association