Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'd be happy to buy you a Shirley Temple

Criminal District Judge Calvin Johnson responded to accusations that he misspent taxpayer money to attend a seminar in Jamaica in a letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune:

I have never spent more money for travel in any year than the Supreme Court allows me to spend.

I have only gone places where I am allowed to go by Supreme Court rules.

I don't stay in all-inclusive hotels.

I don't have 6,000 cases pending trial. As a matter of fact, it's less than 200 cases.

I have been at work since the Thursday after the storm. ...

I missed two days while in Jamaica and had another judge sitting for me so that those who elected me to serve would still be served in my absence. ...

By the way, I don't like or drink piña coladas unless very hard-pressed.

Judge Johnson, you might very well be the best judge in New Orleans. Your performance on the court might very well be exemplary. Your service to the community might very well merit praise, not criticism. Public opinion may very well be judging your actions unjustly. So use your legal skills to defend the value of your $4,500 trip to Jamaica. Help us to understand the value of your contribution to the well-being of the city, and the merit of the expenditure for your trip to Jamaica.

What, specifically, was the purpose of your trip?

What, specifically, did you learn that you didn't know before?

Why couldn't you learn those things in New Orleans, or at least somewhere which wouldn't draw scrutiny for playboy behavior?

What institution of legal training excels so much that a trip to Jamaica is merited?

You aren't the only judge who went to Jamaica. Charles Elloie went, as did Michael Bagneris, Kern Reese, Herbert Cade, and State Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero. I appreciate your attempt to justify your actions, but it still doesn't look good. Fundamentally, why should citizens trust your judgment if they question your ethics? The same goes for the other judges who went to Jamaica.

Judge Johnson, you have yet to answer the concerns of citizens that you aren't uselessly spending their money on junkets for personal pleasure. Don't you understand that citizens want an end to the abuse of public office for private benefit?

That you don't like Piña Coladas doesn't really answer citizens' concerns.

I'd be happy to personally open a tab for Shirley Temples, Roy Rogers, or the hard stuff if that's your pleasure. That's not really the point. $4,500 on the taxpayers' tab for a vacation under the cover of "education" is the issue.

You, and the other judges who went on that junket, owe us a better explanation, or an apology and a refund.

Judging Judge Johnson and Judge Elloie

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At 7/25/2006 01:36:00 PM, Anonymous adrastos said...

Judge J prefers Bourbon.

You should come to our Night Out thing next week. Jen Shaw will be there.

At 7/25/2006 09:02:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Well then, we'd get along just fine.

Night Out thing -- Against crime? Or the blogger thing?

At 7/26/2006 09:20:00 AM, Anonymous adrastos said...

Sorry for the confusion. Night Out Against Crime on the Napoleon neutral ground between Constance and Laurel 6-9 on Tuesday 8/1. Jen is co-leader of her NA across the avenue from my turf.


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