While a judge on Shreveport’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals, James Stewart enjoyed traveling on the taxpayer’s dime—in a big, big way. In fact his travel/education expenses from July 2011 through July 2015 totaled $54,183. The average expenses of the other 8 judges on this court was only $14,719.
Stewart obviously enjoyed his travels while a judge so much so that he spent a week in Los Angeles in July of this year—less than a month before his DA race declaration. He also traveled to such great vacation destinations as Destin, Las Vegas, Miami, St. Louis, San Antonio, and Atlanta. Stewart also made 20 trips to New Orleans as well; his brother Carl is the Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which is headquartered in the Crescent City.
Judge Felicia Williams was the second highest spender for travel/education at $36,942; her travels took her to the California wine country and to the Big Apple (New York City). Jude Milton Moore III was the next highest spender at $27,513 followed by Judge Frances Pitman who spent $16,160. In sharp contrast, Chief Judge Henry Brown only expended $9,773.
Stewart publicly announced his intentions to run for Caddo District Attorney on August 13 of this year. He retired from the Second Circuit on September 6; during the interval from announcement until retirement he was paid in excess of $10,000. The Code of Judicial Conduct clearly states that after announcing for a non-judicial office (like DA) a judge must retire; Stewart has not provided any authority for drawing a salary from the state after August 13. Numerous local judges have stated, off the record, that his pay was contrary to the judicial ethics.
Citing his travel expenses and his salary as a judge after his DA announcement, many political observers are concerned that Stewart will not be a good manager of the Parish and State funding of his office. Additionally, the maximum ($5,000) contribution to his campaign by criminal defense attorneys Ron Miciotto, Robert Piper, Peter Flowers, Lyn Lawrence and Craig Smith as well as the endorsement of former Caddo DA Paul Carmouche (who is now a criminal defense attorney) have many citizens questioning how Stewart will operate the DA’s office if he is elected – – and for good reason.