SIMS AS JUDGE – CAUSE FOR CONCERN
by John Settle, Attorney
The upcoming runoff election for Shreveport city Judge between Shante Wells and Sheva Sims has been flying far below the radar, despite its importance to all Shreveport citizens. The electorate is limited to the overwhelmingly majority black judicial district, yet the winner of this election will be one of four city judges who will hear civil, criminal and probation revocation cases for all Shreveport residents.
Once elected, most judges are never contested for re-election and have, in effect, a lifetime position, which has proven really good or really bad for the general public who ultimately appear before that judge as well as the attorneys who regularly practice in that court. Thus, a judge generally leaves the bench of his own volition, unless removed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. In recent history, judges Mike Walker, Vernon Claville and LaLeisha Walker were in fact “defrocked”, but only after a long, cumbersome process and “more than abundant evidence.”Justice should never depend on the judge who hears a case; uniformity and compliance with statutory and jurisprudential law should be maxims for jurists. Unfortunately this is not always the case; one such judge is Shreveport City Court (Judge Pam Lattier) routinely imposes a much harder/severe sentence for DWI’s than all other judges in Northwest Louisiana.
Sheva Sims is best known to the general public as a three-times-beaten candidate for public office, a winner in name recognition only, which accounts greatly for her judicial race recognition. To those more attuned, she is disgracefully remembered as being the President of the Northwest Louisiana YWCA at the time it was closed by action of the Board of Directors, despite an offer by the City of Shreveport to buy the facility and thus provide funds for continued operation.
Sims’ legal career has been less stellar, and it is difficult to find practicing attorneys who are supportive of her campaign, and especially any of those who have worked with her professionally and/or have observed her in court. Sims may be best acknowledged for the repeated times she has been chastised by judges for her inability to arrive in court on time to represent her own clients. Specifically, a judge issued a bench warrant for her arrest, because of her consistent tardiness (the warrant and arrest records are all public information(Download)). This general tone of disrespect is not the type representation the public should endorse. Additionally, many question Sims’ ability to achieve, much less maintain, the needed judicial temperament to manage a courtroom and effectually (and fairly) deal with the parties and their counsel appearing in a courtroom.
Sims’ record of being late to political forums, – if she actually attends was always observed. And when asked hard questions, she frequently resorted to religious expressions of faith rather than responding with relevant facts. Judges must rely on facts and rules of law as well as strong personal values!
In this election, Sims cannot play the race card, as she did in her council races, albeit, she has played the “I am woman” theme in an effort to woo black female voters. Her lifestyle and general demeanor may not play that well to voters this time; especially those who have children that may one day appear before Sims if she is elected.
Voting on November 19 in this election is far more important with the short ballot; the outcome will affect all citizens. A long hard look at Sims should cause most voters to give a closer and favorable look at her opponent, Shante Wells.