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Four Judges Face Fines 

  On Sept. 30, the Louisiana Ethics Board will hear separate cases involving four state judges who have been assessed fines for tardy filings of campaign finance reports, board staff attorney Alesia Ardoin says. Judge David L. Bell, chief judge of Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, faces a $1,000 fee for filing a report 160 days late in connection with his Nov. 2, 2004, campaign. Bell recently told Gambit that his campaign actually submitted the disputed report before the Board's filing deadline. Judge Mark Doherty, also of Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, faces a $1,000 fee for filing a report 160 days late relative to his 1999 campaign. Ardoin says she will recommend the board reduce the fine to $400 because delinquency notices were sent to an old campaign address. Doherty, however, has insisted that ultimate responsibility for the late filing belongs to him. "The Ethics Board got me dead to rights," the judge told Gambit recently. Criminal Court Judge Ben Willard faces $2,500 in fines for failing to file a report related to his Oct. 4, 2008, re-election campaign in a timely manner. Ardoin says she will recommend the Board dismiss the fine because Willard, a U.S. Army reservist, reported for active duty by the board's Feb. 17 filing deadline. Meanwhile, Judge Wilson Fields of the 19th Judicial District Court at Baton Rouge is appealing a recent board decision upholding a $2,000 fine against his campaign for filing a report 189 days late. In a letter to the board earlier this year, Fields said the panel's staff told his campaign committee he did not need to file a report on Sept. 15, 2008, because he was re-elected without opposition and "the Board did not have members." The judge was referring to a period in which ethics board members resigned in the face of new ethics laws passed at the urging of Gov. Bobby Jindal. — Allen Johnson Jr.

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