Judicial group wants justice judge removed

Published 8:45 pm Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Lincoln County Justice Court Judge told a Judicial Performanceinvestigator that “he allowed the devil to take hold of him” whenhe offered to reduce a fine in exchange for sexual favors in August2009.

The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance recommended thatPost One Justice Court Judge Ralph Boone be removed from the benchafter the investigation turned up evidence that he touched alitigant in a sexual manner while acting in his officialcapacity.

The Commission released a 16-page document Tuesday specifying theevents of a Lincoln County woman’s public drunkenness trial.Judicial Performance Commission Executive Director John Toney saidthe document went into great detail.

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“They went through and pretty well outlined the whole story,” hesaid. “It’s a pretty exhaustive factual scenario.”

Boone, however, maintains his innocence.

“I have not let the people of Lincoln County down,” he said. “Ihave stood up for them and will continue to do so. I’m waiting onSupreme Court to read it and look at it and see what their findingis. They’ll let me know.”

Boone said he is unable to make any other specific comments withouthis lawyer, who is out of town. He said, however, that he feelsonce the investigation is complete, the facts will exoneratehim.

The document states that on April 15, 2009, the woman was told topay $239 in fines and court costs as a result of her guilty verdictfor public drunkenness. Shortly after the trial, Boone and thewoman ran into each other at a local gas station, at which time thereport says he asked her to ride with him in his vehicle to discusspayment of the fine.

During the time they rode together is when the report alleges hefondled the woman and told her that he would fix her fines inexchange for a sexual act. The two then exchanged phone numbers andagreed to meet up after Boone completed his afternoon docket. Thereport says phone records were obtained verifying that he calledher numerous times that afternoon to arrange the meeting.

That afternoon, the woman met with an investigator from the LincolnCounty District Attorney’s Office, and a complaint was filedagainst Boone as a result.

Boone initially denied ever taking the defendant in his truck, butrecanted and ended up admitting that “he was a Christian and thathe allowed the devil to take hold of him.” He also stated that hehad “never really done anything like this before.”

The Commission’s report said Boone was in direct violation of fourcanons of the Code of Judicial Conduct which hold that a judgeshould uphold the integrity of the judiciary, avoid all improprietyand appearance of such, perform his duties impartially anddiligently, and conduct extra-judicial activities so as to minimizethe risk of conflict with his judicial obligations.

“Although Judge Boone was not on the bench at the time he rode inhis vehicle with (the woman), during that time there was discussionof the reduction of her fine, which he handed down that verymorning as a part of his judicial duties,” the report reads, addingthat it was then he fondled her and asked for sexual favors.

“This absolutely casts doubt on his ability to act as a judge,demeans the judicial office, and interferes with the properperformance of his judicial duties,” it said.

The Commission also took issue with the fact that in his statementsof defense, he not only harmed the integrity of the judiciary, healso involved another judge, his clerk and members of theBrookhaven Police Department. He also made unfounded accusationsagainst the complainant’s attorney.

The report also expounds on Boone’s lack of remorse as to hisconduct, both in this case and in his overall dealings on thebench.

“He has continued to blame others for his actions and make excusesfor his behavior,” it reads. “In addition, he has shown apropensity to treat some litigants differently than othersdepending on who asks him for a favor.”

The panel stated that the only sanction that would restoreconfidence in the Lincoln County Justice Court is to remove Boonefrom office and fine him almost $2,000.

“It is a sad day in the judiciary when judges, who have accepted anoath to uphold the law, engage in such conduct as witnessed in thiscase,” the report states.

The recommendation now goes to the Mississippi State Supreme Court,which will consider the recommendations and determine anappropriate final decision, Toney said.