Judges Who Violate Due Process Rights For Personal Gain Just Got a Major Pass From This Federal Court
A New Orleans judge systematically violated the due process rights of criminal defendants when he pushed them to enroll in ankle monitoring provided by a company with which he shared significant financial, professional, political, and personal ties, according to a suit filed last year. Despite acknowledging substantial evidence of this arrangement, the U.S. District Court for the District of Louisiana has struck down the lawsuit.
Those who came before Judge Paul Bonin of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court specifically found themselves steered toward ETOH Monitoring LLC, with Bonin consistently tying release from GPS monitoring to paying all fees to the company.
Yet Bonin failed to disclose that he received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions as well as a loan from ETOH, and that he was previously the law partner of one of the company’s principals.
That suit against ETOH—in this case, the private company was operating as a state actor—was recently struck down not because the partnership between the two was deemed appropriate, but because ETOH did not have a similar arrangement with other judges.
“Plaintiffs’ allegations depend on the specific relationship between former Judge Bonin and ETOH and therefore fail to state an institutional incentives claim,” reads the Court’s decision. In other words, the company is protected from liability because the relationship only existed with Bonin, and not across the entire judiciary.
That’s a recipe for future corruption, says Jaba Tsitsuashvili, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm. “The judge here held that if the constitutional defect—wher
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