The Louisiana Supreme Court agreed Friday to reinstate the law license of former Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge C. Hunter King, who was kicked off the bench in 2003, then disbarred in 2010 for forcing staffers to raise campaign cash and lying about it under oath.
The court booted King from the bench four years into his first term. King then pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy to commit public payroll fraud. He served six months’ probation and later had the conviction expunged.
King found himself in campaign debt and pressured his employees to sell $250 fundraiser tickets under the threat of losing their jobs, court records show. The first complaint against him came from his former court reporter, who claimed she was fired for her refusal to sell the tickets.
King denied the fundraising demands, but audiotapes proved that he pressed his employees to each sell 20 tickets.
If they failed to sell the tickets, he told them, they would need to make a personal contribution.
King also sold tickets at a funeral.
“Now, a funeral clearly ain’t no place where you hustle no damn tickets, but we did it tactful and I don’t think it was unappropriate (sic) because we may not see that guy, Billy, whatever his name was,” he told his staff. “We may not see him again between now and our fundraiser.”
The court on Friday found “clear and convincing evidence” that King has complied with the criteria for readmission to the practice of law, which include recognizing “the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct” and having the “requisite honesty and integrity to practice law,” among others.
The court added conditions, however, demanding that King complete an ethics program and ordering a monitor to watch over him during a yearlong probationary period.
Justices Marcus Clark and Greg Guidry dissented.
King could not be reached for comment.