Justice for sale in Louisiana?

by Deb Rogers |
Jan. 18, 2017, 12:07pm

NEW ORLEANS — The head of a grassroots legal-watchdog group in Louisiana is hoping that now that Jimmy Genovese has taken his position as a Louisiana Supreme Court judge, he will shake off the millions that backed his campaign.

Melissa Landry, executive director of the grassroots legal-watchdog group Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, told The Louisiana Record that the “unusual” election casts a pall on Genovese, who was sworn in Jan. 3.

“I am hopeful that Justice Genovese will turn out to be the kind of fair and impartial justice that our state needs and deserves, but there is no question that the unusual manner in which he was elected has given rise to a host of concerns,” Landry said in an email.

Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch is a local nonpartisan, nonprofit, citizen watchdog group intended to stop lawsuit abuse that hurts Louisiana’s families and threatens local businesses and jobs, according to its website. Since it was formed in 2007, LLAW has grown to nearly 6,000 supporters across the state, representing small-business owners, health-care providers, taxpayers, workers and their families.

Landry cited the millions spent on the campaign this fall.

“Plaintiffs' attorneys went 'all in' on last year's Louisiana Supreme Court race, collectively spending more than $2.38 million to help elect Genovese,” she said.

Genovese beat 15th Judicial District Court Judge Marilyn Castle for the Supreme Court's 3rd District seat in November for the 10-year term. The district encompasses eight parishes: Avoyelles, St. Landry, Lafayette, Vermilion, Acadia, Jefferson Davis, Calcasieu and Cameron. Genovese received 51 percent of the vote. Genovese received 51 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press.

Landry said history and future judicial decisions will decide Genovese’s place in history, if the money spent will affect his rulings

“Whether right or wrong, this level of exorbitant spending by millionaire personal-injury trial lawyers contributes to the perception that justice is for sale in Louisiana,” she said.

In the November Supreme Court race, Genovese and Castle both ran as Republicans.

Genovese had the backing of attorneys, while Castle had the business lobby.

He campaigned on his appellate court experience.

According to the Louisiana State Supreme Court website, Genovese has his bachelor's degree from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and his juris doctorate from Loyola University in New Orleans. His former positions include serving on the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. He was also a Louisiana state district court judge.

He is succeeding Janet Knoll, who retired.

The Supreme Court is Louisiana's highest court and is located in New Orleans.

Under the Constitution of 1974, the Louisiana Supreme Court is composed of seven justices elected from districts throughout Louisiana. In the year 2000, Supreme Court districts were reapportioned into seven new districts, with one justice elected from each of the districts.

The justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court serve 10-year terms of office. The senior justice in point of service is the Chief Justice, who is the chief administrative officer of the judicial system.

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