IN RE: JUSTICE OF THE PEACE JEFF SACHSE, WARD 1, LIVINGSTON PARISH, STATE OF LOUISIANA
COMMISSION OF LOUISIANA
disciplinary proceeding was instituted by the Judiciary
Commission of Louisiana ("Commission") against
respondent, Justice of the Peace Jeff Sachse, Ward 1,
Livingston Parish, State of Louisiana. The matter arose out
of an anonymous complaint lodged against respondent in April
2013, alleging that he was arrested on several occasions for
domestic abuse and simple battery of his now ex-wife, Lisa
Rabalais. The Commission has alleged that respondent's
conduct violated Canons 1 (a judge shall personally observe
high standards of conduct so that the integrity and
independence of the judiciary may be preserved) and 2A (a
judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at
all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the
integrity and impartiality of the judiciary) of the Code of
Judicial Conduct. For the reasons set forth below, we find
respondent has violated the aforementioned Canons as alleged
by the Commission, suspend respondent without pay for six
months, and order him to reimburse and pay to the Commission
$3, 040.02 in costs.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
who is not a lawyer, was elected to the office of justice of
the peace in September 1996. He has served continuously since
that time. Respondent and his wife, Lisa Rabalais, were
married in 1982 and are the parents of three adult children.
On August 10, 2012, Ms. Rabalais moved out of the matrimonial
domicile in Denham Springs. While Ms. Rabalais was packing
her belongings into the car, the police were summoned to the
home in response to complaints by Ms. Rabalais that
respondent had grabbed her by the shirt to prevent her from
leaving. On August 17, 2012, Ms. Rabalais filed a Petition
for Protection from Domestic Abuse in the 21st Judicial
District Court, citing the August 10th incident.
She also alleged that respondent repeatedly contacted her
after the incident "by phone[, ] email and 3rd parties
to get [her] to talk to him" and that he also made
"threats" through her places of employment
"trying to find [her] to talk." 
on Ms. Rabalais' petition, Judge M. Douglas Hughes issued
a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO") that directed
respondent not to, among other things, "abuse, harass,
stalk, follow, or threaten" Ms. Rabalais. The order also
specifically directed respondent not to contact Ms. Rabalais,
go within one hundred yards of her residence or her
personally, and to stay away from her places of employment.
The TRO was in effect from August 17, 2012 to November 17,
2012.On August 27, 2012, respondent was
personally served with a certified copy of the TRO.
Respondent has admitted that he subsequently violated the TRO
in the following instances:
(1) By installing a GPS tracking device on the community
owned vehicle, a 2012 Chrysler 200, without Ms. Rabalais'
knowledge or consent, in order to "aggravate"
(2) On December 3, 2012, respondent was aware that Ms.
Rabalais was working her second job as a personal care
attendant for a handicapped person who lived in the Collins
Place Subdivision, located in unincorporated Livingston
Parish. After Ms. Rabalais left the client's home,
respondent pulled into the subdivision in front of Ms.
Rabalais' vehicle, got out of his vehicle, and attempted
to speak to Ms. Rabalais. Respondent stated that "they
needed to talk, " and then Ms. Rabalais drove away.
Respondent's conduct violated La. R.S. 14:40.2, the
statute defining stalking. As a result of a complaint made to the
Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office, respondent was
arrested for stalking on December 4, 2012.
(3) On February 6, 2013, respondent took the community owned
vehicle, a 2012 Chrysler 200, without the knowledge or
consent of Ms. Rabalais, for the purpose of harassing her,
violation of the statute defining stalking.
is also charged with violating the TRO in the following
instances, which are not admitted:
(1) The Carroll Baptist Church incident - at the time of the
issuance of the TRO, Ms. Rabalais was employed as an
instructor and bus driver for the Livingston Activity Center,
a facility for handicapped adults. On September 7, 2012, well
after respondent was personally served with the TRO, Ms.
Rabalais drove some of the Center's clients to the
Carroll Baptist Church. While she attempted to unlock the
door to the church, Ms. Rabalais saw respondent slowly drive
by in his older model Chevrolet pick-up truck. Ms. Rabalais
ran inside, locked the church doors, concealed herself, and
called the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office. Ms.
Rabalais' co-worker, Karen Watts, testified during the
hearing that she was at the church at the time in question,
saw respondent's truck, and witnessed Ms. Rabalais'
reaction (though she did not actually see respondent). For
his part, respondent denied that he was intentionally
following or stalking Ms. Rabalais. Instead, respondent
testified that he was on the way to his attorney's office
when, by coincidence, he saw Ms. Rabalais at the church.
Though he described the encounter as pure coincidence,
respondent admitted in his sworn statement that he knew that,
as a part of her job, Ms. Rabalais escorts her clients to the
Carroll Baptist Church.
(2) The Los Sombreros incident - on October 25, 2012, as Ms.
Rabalais was leaving the Los Sombreros Mexican Restaurant,
located in a strip mall shopping center in Walker, respondent
spoke to her and said, "Hey Lisa, funny seeing you
here." Ms. Rabalais' friend and co-worker, Velda
Thornton, was present and agreed with Ms. Rabalais'
version of events. Respondent testified that he saw Ms.
Rabalais' car in the parking lot and, after he thought
about it, decided to leave the area because of the TRO. He
then saw Ms. Rabalais and decided to say something to her. He
testified, "I can't swear to exactly what I said,
but I'm going to paraphrase and say, hey, I'm
leaving. Basically, I was letting her know that if she was -
you know, had other things to do here, another little shop to
go in or whatever, to tend to it, I'm leaving, you
don't have to worry about me." (It should be noted
that respondent purchased the GPS tracking device prior to
this incident. Nevertheless, he denied that he used the GPS
device to track Ms. Rabalais to the restaurant.)
(3) On February 21, 2013, respondent sat in the Chrysler 200
vehicle along Ms. Rabalais' bus route with a large sign
in the front passenger window which read, "Please Call
Me." After Ms. Rabalais drove past, respondent pulled up
alongside her in an effort to ensure that Ms. Rabalais viewed
the sign. On February 26, 2013, only five days later, Ms.
Rabalais was traveling on her bus route when respondent once
again pulled in front of her while the bus was idling in the
turn lane of Highway 190 at Juban Road. In his testimony,
respondent denied either incident ever happened. Based on the
February 21, 2013 incident, Ms. Rabalais signed an affidavit
of probable cause to support the issuance of a warrant for
respondent's arrest for stalking. Respondent was arrested
on February 27, 2013.
20, 2013, respondent was charged with simple battery of Ms.
Rabalais and simple robbery of Ms. Rabalais' friend,
Velda Thornton, based on events that occurred on August 10,
2012, when Ms. Thornton assisted Ms. Rabalais in moving out
of the matrimonial domicile. Based on these charges, special
conditions were added to respondent's bond, ordering that
he have "no contact" with Ms. Thornton or Ms.
Rabalais. The following incidents occurred after the "no
contact" order was added to respondent's bond:
(a) On October 9, 2013, respondent blew his horn and was near
Ms. Rabalais when she was driving a client home near Caraway
(b) On October 17, 2013, Ms. Rabalais was once again driving
her bus when she noticed respondent traveling in the same
(c) On November 18, 2013, Ms. Velda Thornton was driving Ms.
Rabalais' bus route when she had to slam her brakes to
avoid a collision with a brown Chevrolet. She identified the
driver as respondent.
(d) On January 25, 2014, Ms. Rabalais observed respondent
staring at her while she was putting a package in her vehicle
at Nawlin's Sports.
(e) On February 7, 2014, respondent approached Ms. Rabalais
in a Wal-Mart in Central, Louisiana and said, "I promise
I didn't know you were here and I am leaving now."
(f) On February 20, 2014, respondent followed Ms. Rabalais
for approximately two miles while she was driving her regular
of these incidents, Ms. Rabalais made a report to the proper
mentioned previously, an anonymous complaint was lodged
against respondent in April, 2013, and a news report of
recent felony arrests was posted on the website of The
Livingston Parish News on July 7, ...