On Saturday, March 25, 2023, NOLA.com reported that 14th Judicial District Court Division G Judge G. Michael Canaday of Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana appeared and admitted before the Louisiana Judicial Commission his “series of failures” while he was presiding over a Lake Charles murder case.

The subject murder case was referring to a case of Dennis Jerome Bartie who was charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 45-year-old Rose Born inside her Lake Charles donut shop in 1998.

It was alleged that without consulting with Bartie’s defense attorneys or holding a hearing, Judge Canaday unsealed Bartie’s financial records in response to a state request.

According to Nola’s report, lawyers for Bartie had asked Canaday to order funding for a DNA report to counter the state’s key evidence. To justify it, they spelled out their defense strategy to Canday in his chambers, sealing the transcript. However, Canaday later agreed privately with a prosecutor to unseal them, then signed a motion releasing the transcript without Barties’s lawyers knowing it.

In a statement before the Commission, Canaday said, “I never thought I would actually be in front of this group, to be quite candid. The fact that I am is an embarrassment to me.”

Canaday also said that he knew better, but he granted the motion anyway, without looking at it, and that he never meant to turn over the records to the DA without hearing.

“If I was on the other side, I would be offended.”, said Canaday.

On November 4, 2020, the Supreme Court ordered the recusal of Canaday from the case, a day after he was reelected on the district court bench.

The public airing of Canaday’s misconduct allegations is rare, as he is just the fifth Louisiana judge to answer misconduct charges before the Commission since the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2020 ordered to make hearings for judges’ misconduct public.

The Louisiana Judiciary Commission is charged with investigating complaints of misconduct by judges and recommending discipline to the state’s highest court.

According to the Commission, Canaday’s admissions violated several judicial canons.

Judge Sharon Wilson of the appeals court suggested that Canaday was predisposed to believe the state.

Additionally, Commissioner John D. Fitzmorris Jr. claimed that Canaday appeared to have operated as a judge in a setting of “ex parte” communication, basing his decisions more on the lawyers involved than their arguments.

In reply, Canaday commented, “I believe I was kind of caught up in a perfect storm. I created a situation. I made a legal error. I committed judicial impropriety. I should have made changes years and years ago.”

Canaday, calling his misconduct “a black mark on my record” said that he won’t be seeking reelection, and added that he hoped to blot it out.

The Louisiana Supreme Court is yet to rule on the sanctions to be imposed upon Canaday.

Judge G. Michael Canaday earned his law degree at Paul Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University. His courtroom is located at 1001 Lakeshore Drive Lake Charles, LA 70601, and can be reached at 337-721-3100.

 

Source: NOLA.com