LAFAYETTE – Judge Marilyn Castle of the the 15th Judicial District said she will rule fairly and impartially if she is elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
“The role of the court is limited,” Castle told the Louisiana Record. “The judicial system is there to apply the law, not make the law. Whether we like what the legislature does or not, unless it’s unconstitutional, that’s the law we have to apply. People want predictability. They should never have to worry about the preferences of a judge making a difference in a case. That should never be a factor.”
Castle officially announced on Feb. 15 that she would run for the state Supreme Court’s 3rd District seat in southern Louisiana. She faces Judge Jimmy Genovese who sits on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. The winner on Nov. 8 will replace Judge Jeanette Knoll who is retiring.
After receiving her law degree from Louisiana State University, Castle accumulated more than 40 years of experience as both an attorney and judge. Castle said she decided in junior high school to become an attorney.
“I always admired the ability of lawyers to help people solve problems,” she said.
She was an assistant district attorney for three years and argued more than 100 cases before the state Supreme Court. Castle then worked as a private business litigator for 20 years and said that experience helped her understand what clients, such as small businesses, wanted from the legal system.
“I was fortunate to have 23 years of experience before going on the bench,” she said. “It helped me tremendously to be a better judge.”
Castle has been a district court judge for 17 years and said she has tried to find ways to make the judicial system more efficient. For example, Castle said she started hearing cases earlier and working later so that litigants and jurors can go home sooner.
“Litigation can be very stressful for people who aren’t lawyers or judges,” Castle said. “Sometimes we lose sight of that because, as lawyers and judges, this is our living.”
Castle said she has also tried to expedite criminal cases in order to reduce the cost of feeding and housing prisoners.
The state Supreme Court sets the standards and policies for lower courts, and Castle said she decided to run because she wanted to keep increasing efficiency in the legal system.
“There are lots of opportunities to help improve the functionality in the judiciary as a whole in the state,” she said.
Her experience at the district court level is important because that is when the trial record is created, Castle said. As a result, she said she understands how a trial works and that will help her if she is elected to the state Supreme Court.
“It gives you a deeper understanding rather than just reading the court record,” Castle said. “Otherwise, it is hard to look at a transcript and figure out what happened in a trial.”
Castle launched her campaign with more than $175,000 in contributions, and an endorsement from the Louisiana Business and Industry Association. Castle said the association’s vetting process was very thorough and that voters also need to carefully examine each candidate’s record.
Although the presidential election will probably lead to high turnout on Nov. 8, Castle said she hopes voters will cast a ballot in other races, including the state Supreme Court contest.
“There are only seven justices and every decision on the Supreme Court is important,” Castle said. “Every position on the Supreme Court is important.”