NEW ORLEANS – A Louisiana Supreme Court race is anticipated to heavily involvetrial lawyers particularly in relation to the candidacy of Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal Judge James “Jimmy” Genovese.
Genovese's candidacy in some ways mirrors the 2012 win of GOP Justice Jeff Hughes, who was heavily supported by trial lawyers representing Citizens for Clean Water and Land PAC who funneled money into his campaign in the waning weeks of that election.
The candidacy of Genovese is viewed by many as a way for trial lawyers to gain an advantage in the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Trial attorneys in Louisiana have been accused of trying to stack the court with favorable justices in order to bypass state laws regarding legacy lawsuits, which have cost oil and gas companies doing business in Louisiana several millions of dollars and an estimated economic loss of more than $6 billion to the state as a whole.
Genovese is running for the high court seat against District Court Judge Marilyn Castle.
The retirement announcement of Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll opened up the spot in the Third District of the Louisiana Supreme Court, garnering interest from Castle and Genovese.
Castle is a judge in the 15th Judicial District in Louisiana. The position, which will be the sole Supreme Court ballot in the November election, is expected to be a tight race between the two candidates.
Despite the election being limited geographically, the effects are foreseen to cover a wider spectrum and can affect the entire state of Louisiana. The winner of this race will earn a 10-year term in court.
“There’s national interest in the race, with expectations that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will get involved, and heavy-duty super PACs are already lining up on both sides of the contest,” predicted Jeremy Alford of LaPolitics.
In his campaign, Genovese pointed out that his appellate experience allows him to stand out. However, this point was countered by Castle, who noted that three of the seven current justices came from district courts. Although no mud-slinging has been witnessed to date, Genovese already expressed concern on the endorsements of the business sector of Castle.
To counter this, Castle clarified that she does not entertain endorsers who only extend their support to get something in return. While her campaign also acknowledged the appellate experience of Genovese, she pointed out that the rulings are constantly overturned.
“On one side you have Genovese supporters accusing Castle of being too cozy with oil and gas interests, which she labels as an inflated claim, and Castle supporters accusing Genovese of being a trial lawyer candidate, which he brushes aside while noting support from defense attorneys,” Alford said in his column.
Alford added, “Independent expenditures in this race will probably play up the extremes, painting Genovese as anti-oil and Castle as being in cahoots with big business, neither of which will play well in the blue-collar oil patch of Cajun country. Neither candidate wants to go down that inevitable path.”
The Louisiana Supreme Court election will be held on November 8.