By Aubrey Killion | WDSU | May 27, 2020
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. —The coronavirus has crippled courts across southeast Louisiana.
One is in St. John the Baptist Parish, where a judge there was suspended after being accused of inappropriately touching juveniles.
Records WDSU Investigates has obtained show he’s been getting paid not to work for two years while waiting to go to trial. Other judges are getting paid extra to cover his cases. Combined with his salary, it’s cost taxpayers nearly a half-million dollars.
According records from the Louisiana Supreme Court, Judge Jeff Perilloux has not been on the bench since taking a leave of absence in May 2018. Since then, he has been paid more than $308,000 without spending a single day in the courtroom.
The state Supreme Court officially suspended Perilloux in June 2018 after he was indicted on three felony counts of inappropriate behavior with a juvenile and one count of misdemeanor sexual battery.
Perilloux has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
State records show cases that would have been assigned to Perilloux have been added to the dockets of seven other judges at a cost of more than $176,000. Between Perilloux’s salary and the money to cover his caseload, taxpayers have picked up the tab for more than $484,000.
“The problem is concluding this case. This case just became even more bogged down in quicksand because of the virus situation that the nation is dealing with,” said Rafael Goyeneche, the head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a local watchdog organization. “When you look at the dollars and cents, it’s going to be upsetting because this is allegations of misconduct by a public official. It makes it even more egregious when you are talking about a judge.”
Perilloux was scheduled to face trial in March 2019, but his court date has been delayed five times, most recently due to shut downs associated with coronavirus, according to the St. John the Baptist Clerk of Court.
The Louisiana Constitution allows judges to collect pay while they are under suspension, and they also continue to earn retirement.
“This is a concrete example of how it’s costing the public to pay not one salary but two salaries. Additionally, every day the judge is not there but being paid, he’s also one day more vested in the judicial pension system as well,” Goyeneche said. “It’s taking too long for judicial misconduct in cases involving administrative proceedings to be adjudicated, that’s something I think needs to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.”
Perilloux declined an interview request through his lawyer, Jim Williams. His trial has been rescheduled for July. Williams provided the following statement:
“Judge Perilloux is very anxious to get back to the job that the citizens of St. John The Baptist elected him to do. He has every intention of running for re-election this fall. Trial in his case is scheduled to begin on Monday July 13 in Edgard. We are hopeful to have a jury selected and the case tried before the end of that week.”