(CN) - A Louisiana judge accused of wandering around the courtroom and eating candy in the jury box denied a couple's right to a fair trial, the state's highest court ruled 4-3.
In an unsigned opinion, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted a new trial to Richard and Carrie Logan for their medical malpractice claims against Dr. Donald Schwab Jr., ruling that they were the victims of a "miscarriage of justice."
Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson wrote a concurring opinion "to emphasize the unprofessional and inappropriate nature of the trial judge in this case." He called the judge's conduct "bizarre and disturbing."
The Logans complained that Judge Timothy C. Ellender roamed around the courtroom during the trial and looked out the window. He also snacked on candy in the jury box while witnesses were testifying, according to the Logans.
Johnson also cited the Logans' "uncontroverted testimony" that Ellender greeted the defense's medical expert with a handshake and a hug in front of the jury.
Johnson called Ellender's alleged behavior "insidious" and stated that it "communicated to the jury in a non-verbal way his opinion that the trial was not serious and could be treated as a joke."