BATON ROUGE – A Louisiana Legislative Audit has released a scathing review of the use of public money by the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court and the Orleans Parish Civil District Court.
New Orleans Criminal Court and Civil District Court were blasted in the audit for using public money for extra insurance for judges. The Legislative Audit follows a series of investigative pieces from WWL-TV's Mike Perlstein on court spending and finances. (See audit)
“It appears that contrary to state law, from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2011, the judges of the Court improperly used public funds totaling $637,367 to provide themselves with supplemental and additional insurance benefits,” said the audit.
The audit’s review of the criminal court travel expenses from Jan. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31, 2011 found “that the Court lacked adequate documentation to support all amounts expended for travel as required by the Supreme Court's travel policy,” and “allowed judges to pay excessive amounts for lodging during the Summer School for Judges and the Annual Meeting of the State Bar Association. Without complete travel records or detailed receipts, we could not determine the business purpose of all travel expenses.”
Also, the audit found Criminal District Court employees were not required to document the time and attendance and work.
The audit of Orleans Civil District Court was equally as scathing. (See audit)
Like the Criminal District Court, “the judges of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans (Civil District Court) and the First and Second City Courts for the City of New Orleans (City Courts) improperly used Judicial Expense Funds monies totaling $191,073 to provide themselves with additional insurance benefits,” said the audit.
“From July 2009 to July 2011, several judges of the Courts incurred lodging expenses which appear excessive while attending the Summer School for Judges and the Annual Meeting of the State Bar Association,” said the audit.
Employees of Civil District Court were not required to document hours and attendance at work as well, according to the audit.