New Orleans, La. –
FOX 8 News and the Times-Picayune are suing the judges of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, alleging that the judges have refused to hand over public records.
The lawsuit names the chief judge of Orleans Criminal Court, Camille Buras, and judicial administrator Robert Kazik as defendants.
On December 10, 2012, FOX 8 requested documents relating to life insurance policies purchased with money from the Judicial Expense Fund — that’s a fund controlled by the judges. Times-Picayune reporter John Simmerman requested similar records on January 2 of this year.
“These particular judges, in addition to their state benefits, used judicial expense funds to purchase supplemental coverages, whole life insurance policies, in some cases naming even their family members as their beneficiaries, says FOX 8 and Times-Picayune attorney Lori Mince.
According to a legislative audit from last year, the judges purchased 85 life insurance policies.
In fact all 13 judges carried multiple policies. After the auditor started looking, the policies were canceled — the judges paid the court back $72,000. That money came from refunded premiums, cash surrender value and interest.
After the audit, we wanted to find out more about the policies. We wanted to find out who paid back the court, and whether any judges failed to do so. They have been fighting the release of the records.