Criminal court judges in New Orleans are having conflicts of interest when they are faced with deciding whether some defendants are able to pay fines and fees that partially fund their court's expenses.
The decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling that the New Orleans-based state district court judges must provide a "neutral forum" for determining whether a defendant can pay.
Although state judges argued they're not swayed by their court's financial interest, the three-judge 5th Circuit panel noted that the fines and fees in question go into a fund controlled by the state judges and make up a significant portion of the court budget.
The judges could seek a re-hearing or appeal to the Supreme Court.
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