Judge given OK for gospel music nonprofit

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Circuit Judge L.T. Simes the Second of Helena-West Helena has won clearance from an ethics panel to continue operating a nonprofit group that he uses to promote his recordings of gospel music.

Simes has a Web site called "Testimony of the Holy Spirit," that includes Simes' partial biography, various religious messages and a page with recordings that can be ordered using PayPal. Though he has performed under the name Judge L.T. Simes and the Jury, there is no mention of the group on the site.

The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee told Simes in a letter dated Tuesday that the judge can't use his title or any other trappings of his office, such as pictures of him in his robes, in the venture.

In asking for the opinion, Simes told the panel that, with his wife and son, he formed the nonprofit corporation Holy Spirit 777, the primary function of which is to sell his music. Simes said the money raised goes to charitable functions. He told the committee that he had removed all photos and references relating to his judgeship.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)