LAKE CHARLES — Legal experts say Louisiana takes a unique approach to its courts, with judges blending two systems to make rulings.
Louisiana centers on a civil law system, which dictates that courts base their rulings on their interpretation of the law. This differs from states whose courts follow a common law system—one that favors precedent, giving judges the power to influence future cases by establishing new rules.
But in reality, Louisiana is a mix of both, John Baker Jr., a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Louisiana State University Law Center, told the Louisiana Record.
“Louisiana judges have been educated at LSU and other Louisiana law schools and generally are not 'pure civilians,'” Baker said. “They tend to mix common law methodologies with that of the civil law.
“Although I was not educated as a civilian, I admire much in the civil law and do not think Louisiana should make major changes to its legal system."
Baker believes the election of all judges in the state has the largest influence on the state's judicial system. In Louisiana, all judges are selected through bipartisan elections.
In today's runoff election for the open seat on the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal, Division B, Susan Theall and Candyce Perret, both Republicans, face off to replace James Genovese, who was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court last year amid concerns of his campaign being backed by trial attorneys.
In March, Theall and Perret beat Vanessa Waguespack Anseman, another Republican. But because neither garnered a majority of votes, they triggered a runoff. Anseman was allowed on the ballot in a last minute court ruling after first being removed when a district judge determined she didn't meet the state's requirements.
The Lafayette attorney was deemed ineligible after the St. Landry Parish District Attorney challenged her candidacy, claiming she wasn't admitted to practice law for at least 10 years, the Acadiana Advocate reported. She earned her law degree in 2003 but, the DA claimed, Anseman let her state bar association dues lapse and didn't keep up with continuing education requirements for a time.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeal overturned a district judge's ruling, allowing Anseman to run, just ahead of the election. The Louisiana Supreme Court also stepped in, clarifying the dates used to challenge Anseman's candidacy, showing that she meets the 10-year requirement.