NEW ORLEANS — Earlier this week a viewer called us to say that a criminal court judge in Orleans Parish had been collecting a six-figure paycheck plus benefits for more than a year even though he hadn’t heard a case in that entire time.
The judge is Byron Williams, who voluntarily stepped down amid accusations of sexual harassment.
WWL-TV decided to Verify whether the viewer’s information was correct and how your tax dollars are being spent.
Last July 2, Eyewitness News reported that Judge Williams stepped off the bench at Orleans Criminal Court while the state Supreme Court investigated claims of sexual harassment.
Among the claims, some are outlined in a letter obtained by WWL-TV from the head of the Orleans Public Defenders office to the chief judge.
The letter documented alleged unwanted physical contact regarding a female public defender. “Judge Williams noticed her, and excitedly told her to come in while grabbing her by the arm and pulling her to his side. Williams then placed his arm around her back/shoulder area.”
It went on to say, “Williams then directed the audience’s attention to the attorney’s appearance. He asked them to notice how well-dressed she is, how attractive she is and what a good size she is.”
The letter also alleged that Judge Williams singled out a woman appearing in drug court and “asked the audience to compare her appearance to the attorney’s appearance.”
Now that it's been a full year since Williams' leave of absence, we contacted the Orleans Parish District Court for an update.
Judicial administrator Rob Kazik confirmed Judge Williams is still off the bench, but still a judge on interim suspension.
Multiple sources within the court system told us he's still earning his salary, which according to the most recent state judicial compensation commission report, is in the neighborhood of $150,000 a year plus benefits.
WWL-TV tried to reach Judge Williams but calls to his office and his attorney's office were not returned.
Having said that, last year when Williams stepped down, his attorney Ernest Jones released a statement saying Judge Williams was quote "not guilty" and "confident that his name will ultimately be cleared."