BATON ROUGE — After nearly 20 years on the bench of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Associate Justice Jeannette Knoll recently announced plans to retire at the end of 2016.
Knoll, the representative of the court's 3rd District, covering much of southwest Louisiana, made her decision public shortly after the new year. Her retirement will take effect on Dec. 31.
“It will be with tears of joy, pride and humility that on December 31, 2016, at midnight, I will retire my robe in the great ‘Hall of Justice’ knowing that I contributed 34 years of jurisprudence that maintained a balance between liberty, justice and order, between unity and diversity, and between individual rights and collective needs,” Knoll said in a written statement.
The announcement comes at a time of some contention in the court, as several of the justices are embroiled in a federal lawsuit with one another. Justice Jeff Hughes, a first-term justice, filed the lawsuit against four of his colleagues, following Knoll's and his forced recusals from overseeing certain pending legacy lawsuits. The decision was a result of campaign contributions given to Knoll and Hughes by PACs run by plaintiffs' attorneys in those cases.
Knoll issued a fierce objection to her removal at the time, but did not join her colleague's suit.
John S. Baker, Jr., a professor emeritus at the Louisiana State University Law Center and a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, noted that such things might not be the only bit of drama to strike the courtroom when the hunt for Knoll's replacement begins. Without commenting on the impact of her departure directly, he made a reference to previous races.
"It is clear, however, that her replacement will emerge from the same process that has dominated the last several Supreme Court races: a contest pitting candidates backed by trial lawyers versus those backed by business interests," Baker recently told the Louisiana Record.
Knoll began serving her first term on the state's highest court in 1997, moving up from the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, where she had served since 1982. Before that, she had worked as first assistant district attorney in Avoyelles Parish for 10 years.
She received both her undergraduate and law degrees at Loyola University. From there, she completed her academic tenure with the pursuit of a master's degree in judicial process from the University of Virginia Law School.
In addition to her role on the bench, Knoll remains an instructor for the Louisiana Judicial College. While she currently also serves on numerous university boards and committees, in the past she also
served as chair of Continuing Legal Education for the Louisiana Court of
“Notwithstanding the constitutional age limitations for judicial candidacy, I have always said there is a time in life for everything," Knoll said in her written statement announcing her retirement. "My time has come to bring my judicial career to an end."
In her current role, Knoll, who has been married for 49 years and has five sons, represents Lafayette, St. Landry, Acadia and Vermilion parishes.