Louisiana taxpayers have spent more than $288,000 to pay the salaries both of two judges sidelined by sexual misconduct allegations and of their temporary replacements since May, and that figure is growing as investigations and court proceedings continue.
The state has paid $114,000 to suspended St. John the Baptist Parish Judge Jeff Perilloux since he left the bench in May and $89,000 to Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Byron C. Williams since he left the bench in July, public records obtained from the state Supreme Court show.
Both judges have been suspended as a result of sexual misconduct allegations.
Perilloux faces trial on three felony counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and a misdemeanor sexual battery charge.
Williams has not been charged with any crime, but his conduct at the New Orleans courthouse is under investigation by the state Judiciary Commission. He is the subject of complaints that include allegations he groped a clerk and made inappropriate comments in his drug court, according to sources.
Rafael Goyeneche III, president of the watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the continuing payments to the judges and their replacements are the “byproduct of the convoluted and glacial pace these investigations traditionally take.”
“Unfortunately, these types of investigations aren’t measured in days, weeks or months. They’re usually measured in years. So this is not atypical. Judges, just like any other individual that is under investigation, are entitled to due process,” he said.
In addition to paying the judges’ salaries, taxpayers have so far spent $29,000 on Perilloux’s ad hoc fill-ins in the 40th Judicial District Court and $49,000 on Williams’ replacements at Criminal District Court.
Former Criminal District Court Judge Dennis Waldron has become a workhorse at both courthouses, overseeing the docket in Criminal District Court’s Section G as well as the case against Perilloux in St. John.
It’s hard to say when either case might be resolved.
Perilloux’s trial on allegations that he groped his teenage daughter’s friends has been postponed to July 29.
Meanwhile, the status of the Judiciary Commission probe of Williams’ behavior at the courthouse is unclear; under state law, such investigations are confidential.