Questioning Selection of Shreveport City Court Pro Tem Judges

by John Settle
Shreveport Attorney John Settle
John Settle

If you are going to Shreveport City Court for a case, there’s a good chance your case will be heard by someone other than one of the four elected judges. When one of the four city judges (Kelly, Irvin, Lattier, Sims) are not on the bench, a judge pro tem will preside, – – which has been 71 times this year as of November 27th.

Take a chance…

Judges pro tem are selected by the court administrator, Marilyn Smith, from a list of attorneys approved by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Those currently on the list are retired Judge Andrew Gallagher and retired Judge Ross Foote along with Shreveport attorneys Andrew Randall, Brenda Ford, Lori Graham, Wilbert Pryor, Charles Salley and Walter “Doug” White.

Retired judges are mandated to have priority for selection and then the approved attorneys on the basis of availability by the court administrator. Judge Gallagher has served 9 times as a judge pro tem this year and Judge Foote 7 times. The number of other appointments this year are as follows: Wilbert Pryor 21; Andrew Randall 19; Brenda Ford 8; Lori Graham 5 and Doug White 2.

Some court observers have questioned the appointment process; with the exception of retired Judges Gallagher and Foote all the pro tem judges selected this year are African-American with the exception of White. Marilyn Smith, who makes the selections, is also Afro-American.

Back room issues?

Seemingly the appointment process could be refined to allow a more equitable distribution of cases among the approved attorneys and more lawyers should be encouraged to qualify for the process. Justice is not black or white, but the pro tem judges in Shreveport City Court should be more reflective of Shreveport’s population.