New Orleans judge absent, courtroom dark

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 19 at 7:02 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS - Attorneys who practice at Orleans Criminal Court want to know why one judge is taking time off while her section of court is dark.

Judge Lynda Van Davis's absences are well known at Tulane and Broad.

Some attorneys complain about a backlog of cases in her Section B courtroom, which in recent weeks has been run by a fill-in judge, instead Judge Van Davis.

"From what I hear, she's going to be out until July 9, so that's about two more weeks, three more weeks of nothing being done," said Defense Attorney Rick Tessier.

Tessier says he's trying to get a trial date set for his client who is accused of being a convicted felon in possession of a fire arm.

He says his client has been in jail for more than a year waiting for his case to be heard.

"The Supreme Court has to step up and say 'no more,' either you come back and sit on the bench like you're getting paid for or quit."

Court documents indicate Judge Van Davis requested personal leave and an ad-hoc judge from June 4 through June 29.

The Louisiana Supreme Court which appoints the fill-in judges agreed to cover her cases only through June 15.

A court administrator says judges can get a fill-in for up to 20-days and Van Davis had already used up 10 of those days.

He also said by law, judges at Tulane and Broad can take up to two and a half months of vacation and personal leave time.

Tuesday, Section B was locked up and no one answered the phone in the judge's office.

Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche says the state judiciary commission should look into Van Davis' absences.

"If a judge has already had a months worth of ad-hocs and she's taking still additional time off that requires that her courtroom is going to go dark for a period of time and that's effecting her work product and her workload, then that's a problem." said Goyeneche.

Goyeneche says in recent studies done by the MCC, Van Davis has ranked in the bottom tier of judges for productivity. He says the latest review of the Orleans Parish bench is expected to be released in the next ten days.

For now, some of Van Davis's cases are being continued and others are be handled by other judges at criminal court.

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