For the past eight months, Orange, Fl., Circuit Judge James Henson hasn’t heard a case, issued a ruling, or made any of the judicial decisions voters elected him to execute nearly three years ago, the Orlando Sentinel reports. While Henson has been on a leave of absence since February, waiting to see whether the Florida Supreme Court will kick him off the bench, he has collected his salary. By the end of the month, he will have made $84,966 for staying home. A team of senior judges has been paid $300 or $350 per day for time Henson has missed. By Sept. 30, state taxpayers will have shelled out another $47,377 to pay Henson’s replacements for 141 court days missed.
Henson avoided risking a formal suspension by the Supreme Court by simply agreeing to take an extended leave. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Henson’s judicial-misconduct case Tuesday. A commission found Henson guilty of taking on a criminal-defense client while he was still a sitting judge in late 2000 and then, as a private attorney, advising that same client to flee the country to avoid prosecution. The case involved two DUI manslaughter charges. The judge’s paid leave is not expected to end any time soon. That’s because the state’s high court typically takes six more months after oral arguments to decide issues such as the removal of a judge.