A Jefferson Parish judge has come out of retirement, but not for long and not without pay. The Louisiana Supreme Court late last month appointed former Judge Jo Ellen Grant to temporarily replace Joan Benge, who was removed from her Division A seat on the 24th Judicial District Court bench in Gretna. Grant's appointment runs from Nov. 24 to Dec. 14. A retired judge who returns to a district court for a temporary assignment typically receives $406.77 a day, or $8,135.34 a month, according to Valerie Willard, spokesperson for the Louisiana Supreme Court. The high court is expected to announce other fill-in judges until Gov. Bobby Jindal calls an election to replace Benge. Grant retired from her Division I seat in December 2008. Grant, who turns 57 on Christmas Eve, first won election to the court on Dec. 8, 1990. The Supreme Court ordered Benge off the bench Nov. 6 after concluding that she improperly awarded $4,275 to a plaintiff in a 2001 personal injury case in which disgraced former Judge Ronald Bodenheimer had privately interceded on the plaintiff's behalf.
Benge, 53, a former Jefferson Parish prosecutor who was first elected to the bench in 2001, maintained her innocence, blaming any mistakes on judicial inexperience. Benge was not charged with any crime, but her removal was a spinoff of the FBI courthouse corruption probe code-named "Wrinkled Robe." — Allen Johnson Jr.