NEW ORLEANS – Several court elections are in play for Louisiana’s judicial system come November.
Included in the elections are two Louisiana Supreme Court placements, three Court of Appeals positions and three district judge assignments. All of the positions will be decided in the Nov. 8 elections.
The race for the two Supreme Court judge seats will fill a seat vacated by Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll who is retiring. Candidates running for the seats are Judge James Genovese and Judge Marilyn Castle. Both candidates are Republicans and are running for Supreme Court judge of the Third District.
Marcus R. Clark will be running in the Fourth District and is serving the unexpired term of his predecessor, which ends Dec 31. Clark is also a Republican.
As the highest court in Louisiana, the state Supreme Court has seven judges elected for 10-year terms. The change in judges could impact the state on decisions made lawsuits that come before it.
“Whenever you have a change of judge on a Supreme Court of the state, it depends on cases where there are close votes,” Dr. John S. Baker Jr. visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center and professor emeritus at Louisiana State University Law Center told the Louisiana Record. “It will have an impact one way or another. If the replacement for the existing judge is of a different viewpoint it can affect the outcome of a case.”
Positions up for election in the District Court of Appeals include the Second, Third and Fourth Districts. Jay Caraway is the Republican incumbent running for the Second District against Jeff Cox, a Democrat. The Third District election matches Shannon Gremillion and Jimmie C. Peters, both Democrats who currently serve as judges on the Court of Appeals.
For the Fourth District, Max Tobias is currently unopposed. He is a Democrat elected to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in 2000.
There are five Louisiana circuit courts of appeal comprising nine judges. Judges sit in panels of three for each appeal court with each circuit divided into at least three districts with at least one judge being elected from each.
“In Louisiana the race certainly for the Supreme Court and I assume for the Court of Appeal in different places is often a contest of a candidate backed by the business groups versus the candidate backed by the plaintiffs’ lawyers,” Baker said. “That does have an impact because each of those sides choose somebody that is more favorable to them and that’s a problem with an elected judiciary. There’s a pressure on the candidates to tilt one way or the other and that’s not what judges are supposed to do. Judges aren’t supposed to favor businesses or plaintiffs. They’re supposed to favor the law.”
The Louisiana district courts also have seats to fill with one vacancy in its Eastern District and two vacancies in the Western District. Claude J. Kelly III has been nominated for the Eastern District, and Stephanie A. Finley has been nominated for the Western District.
A total of 42 judicial districts make up Louisiana. Each has its own court and serves at least one parish.