On Friday, October 21, 2022, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Charlene Charlet Day, judge for Section 2, Division C of the East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court, without pay for 180 days for abusing her power to hold people in contempt.

The judge was charged with violating Canons 1, 2, 2A, and 3A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Article V, Section 25(C) of the Louisiana Constitution.

In July 2022, the Louisiana Judiciary Commission recommended to the high court the suspension of Judge Day from office for 180 days. According to the Commission, Judge Day violated Canon 1 by failing to observe a high standard of conduct, which damaged the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and Canons 2 and 2A by failing to respect and comply with the law, thereby eroding public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. The Commission added that Judge Day violated Canon 3A(1) by failing to follow the law and maintain professional competence in it. Judge Day’s actions also constitute willful misconduct in violation of Article V, Section 25(C) of the Louisiana Constitution.

The Supreme Court noted that Judge Day was previously admonished for abusing her contempt authority in two separate cases. These admonishments expressly warned Judge Day there are no exceptions to the procedural requirements for holding a person in contempt. Despite these warnings, her contempt powers were again used and deprived someone of their liberty without following proper procedure. The prior discipline should have prompted extreme caution before depriving someone else of their liberty for contempt. This factor weighs in favor of serious discipline.

The filing reads:

“According to the record, Judge Day imposed a jail sentence for contempt that was not authorized by law and exhibited an intemperate judicial demeanor towards the individuals. So, this is the third time it has been proved that Judge Day abused her contempt power. Unfortunately, this reflects a “pattern or practice of legal error.” Jd. at 178 (“[A] pattern of repeated legal error (although not necessarily the same error) over a period of time can constitute judicial misconduct, regardless of whether the errors were made in bad faith or were egregious in nature.”).”

Considering Judge Day’s prior admonishment, the Commission is concerned that she doesn’t completely understand her mistake, her experience on the bench, and the fact that an individual was actually detained and jailed as a result of this misconduct. The Supreme Court agreed and stated that a 180-day suspension from judicial office without pay is warranted.

The order reads:

“It is ordered that Judge Day be and she is suspended from judicial office for 180 days without pay.
Judge Day is further ordered to pay the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana $6,260.00 for costs.”

Judge Day was admitted to practice law in 1994. She was first elected family court judge in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2011. Her current term ends on December 31, 2026. She will attain age 70 during this term, making her current term her last.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.