Judicial Ethics in Criminal Justice

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The criminal justice professional I decided to research was Judge James Best for the wrongdoings and ethical violations and dilemmas present in the case. Now, I say judge James Best and you probably have no idea who he is, so I’m going to explain some brief history on judge Best so you can have some background on him before anything else. Judge James Best of the Eighteenth Judicial District Court for the parishes of Iberville, Pointe Coupee, and West Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana. Now, speaking about what did Judge Best do wrong and or what ethics did he violate because we don’t hear anything on the news about judges as much as we hear from other law enforcement jobs. We see on the news in today’s world how only the bad and or a juicy story to make it on the news. Back to judge Best “The Commission filed formal charges against Judge Best on May 20, 1997.

Initially, the formal charges against Judge Best consisted of four separate charges. However, the Commission dropped Charge I. The Commission conducted a preliminary investigation of the factual allegations surrounding Charge I and concluded that they were not supported by clear and convincing evidence” (FindLaw's). Hope you can see that even if they dropped the first charge, they still charged him with four. I will now go over the four charges so you can see his wrongdoings and how he violated the ethics of the job. According to our textbook Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice it says that attorneys tend to keep their head down and their opinions to themselves even when judges are clearly in the wrong (Pollock, J. M.). Like a great man Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” (quoteresearch).


Since charge I was dropped we’ll being going onto charge II judge Best was accused of making public comments concerning two separate pending matters and according to the judge code of conduct “A judge should not make public comment on the merits of a matter pending or impending in any court” (Code of Conduct). Breaking one of the rules in the code of conduct I believe is a wrongdoing and an ethical violation. Judges are not allowed to share with the public things about a case that are still pending that’s why “The Commission charged Judge Best with violating canons 1, 2, and 3 A(8) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and article V, section 25 C of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974” (FindLaw's). finishing the second charge we go now into the third charge Judge James Best was charged with. Judge Best was charged with violating canons 1, 2, and 3 A (1) and (2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct and article V, section 25 C, of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974. Now, you ask yourself why, well judge Best took a poll of the audience as to whether they thought the defendant, who was representing himself, was guilty of battery. When we come to see battery the person could either be guilty or not guilty. That’s where the judge has to take all the evidence into account and see by what the lawyers are saying and what the jury says if he was guilty or not. Why would knowing he could be guilty or not guilty and that it requires your experience and knowledge to determine that would you give it out for the audience to vote whether his is or is not guilty.

The problem I see here that if you ask the audience for their opinion it’s going to be based on assumption. Why do I say assumption because if you’re dealing with someone with a battery charge on a woman and your audience are woman and other people that’ve had bad experiences like son, family, and or friend of someone who has been battered is going to be one sided. Plus, another point is the audience tends not hear what goes against their beliefs and or what they see. “Do not assume anything! This is easy to say, but sometimes tough to do in the moment. It can seem painless to make an assumption from reading someone’s email, but the real question is what is your assumption, and is it correct? That is where the problem lies” (Hunter, M.). Seeing the fourth charge Judge James Best had was for what he said to a juvenile he was charged with violating canons 3 A(2) and (3) of the Code of Judicial Conduct and article V, section 25 C of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974. He was charged with this because “Judge Best then released Juvenile P and said: Get over there.2 I can tell you (Juvenile P's mother) what you need to do with him, you need to take him and stick him upside down in a trash can and haul him out to the yard. He is belligerent, he mouthed off at you the whole time you testified. I heard what you (Juvenile P) said under my breath, [s]on, under your breath. You (juvenile P) need to be taken behind a shed and whipped, that's what you need. And I'm just sorry the law doesn't give me the authority to do it right here in this courtroom. ? Yeah, you sneer. ? You're a punk is what you are. ? Go ahead, cry? ? Ma'am (Juvenile P's mother), you got a real problem on your hands” (FindLaw's).


In conclusion what we come to see it that judge James Best committed wrongdoings and violated the ethics of a judge in charge II, a judge shall perform the duties of office impartially and diligently. A judge ought to abstain from public feedback about a pending or impending intending in any court and have to require comparable abstention on the phase of court docket personnel challenge to his or her route and control. In charge III judge best admits that he was wrong for asking the courtroom audience to vote on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Judge best said that he didn’t use the audience feedback on the decision he made but it still seems unethical to ask the courtroom audience for their opinion. In charge IV a judge should maintain their decorum, their patience and treat everyone in the court room with respect. Judge Best attitude and decisions were not within the judge code of conduct and not ethically right we what judge Best did wrong and for that the following was ordered for judge Best. “For the reasons stated above, it is ordered that Judge James Best of the Eighteenth Judicial District Court for the parishes of Iberville, Pointe Coupee, and West Baton Rouge, be and he is hereby publicly censured for violating canons 1, 2, 3 A(1), (2), (3), and (8), and article V, section 25 C of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974. ? It is further ordered that Judge Best reimburse the Louisiana Judiciary Commission $1,575.56, which is the amount of costs incurred during the prosecution and investigation of this case” (FindLaw's).


  1. FindLaw's Supreme Court of Louisiana case and opinions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://caselaw.findlaw.com/la-supreme-court/1430350.html
  2. Code of Conduct for United States Judges. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.uscourts.gov/judges-judgeships/code-conduct-united-states-judges
  3. Hunter, M. (2019, March 29). The Problem with Assumptions. The Sales Hunter | Sell With Confidence and Integrity. https://thesaleshunter.com/the-problem-with-assumptions/
  4. Pollock, J. M. (2019). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  5. quoteresearch, Author. “Nearly All Men Can Stand Adversity, But If You Want To Test a Man's Character, Give Him Power.” Quote Investigator, 21 Nov. 2018, quoteinvestigator.com/2016/04/14/adversity/.
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Judicial Ethics in Criminal Justice. (2022, Feb 05). Retrieved June 24, 2024 , from

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