The election of Caddo District Judge Frances Pitman to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has triggered a judge shuffle on the Caddo bench. Judge Frances has yet to decide when she will take office on Fannin Street; but it will certainly be before the January term which hears its first cases on January 14, 2013.
Judges in Caddo get to pick their judicial seat by seniority. Caddo has 3 civil sections, 3 domestic sections and 5 criminal sections which includes drug court and potential remands to alcohol recovery centers. The judges consider a “rotation” yearly, and often judges will swap sections with other judges for various reasons.
Currently, civil cases are heard by Judge Brun, Judge Leon Emmanuel and Judge Jeannette Garrett. The three domestic judges are Bobby Waddell, Frances Pitman and Ramon Lafitte. The criminal section judges are Ramona Emmanuel, Scott Crichton, Judge John Mosely and Judge Mike Pitman. Judge Craig Marcotte presides in drug court.
The new court line up will return Judge Crichton to the civil bench and Judge Garrett will move to the domestic bench. Judge Mike Pitman is stated to replace his bride in domestic court, and Judge Lafitte will go to the criminal bench. Judge Marcotte, who had the option of moving to the criminal bench, will stay in drug court.
Judge Mike Pitman will be making a return appearance to the domestic bench on January 2; in fact he has sent an email out to domestic attorneys to that affect. If he will be tutored by his wife Judge Frances will be an open question for parties and attorneys alike. In any event, it should make for interesting pillow talk between this judicial couple.
Retired Judge John Joyce of Monroe has been selected as the judge pro tem to fill Judge Frances’ seat. He has previously served as pro tem, admirably, in drug court; – – this time he will be at the criminal bench.
To Joe Blow on the street, this judicial domino will have little if any impact. However persons who presently have cases pending in Caddo, may have a new judge who will take over midstream. Although this is not an uncommon occurrence, it can be a bit disconcerting to individuals (and their counsel). And re-learning how Judge Mike Pitman rules on domestic cases will be the big concern for the domestic bar that has become accustomed to Judge Frances.
The black robe shuffle may be repeated in April of next year when it is expected that Judge Garrett will move to the Second Circuit to fill the seat of now retired Judge Gay Gaskins. The April election will also fill the spot vacated by Judge Frances. Currently, Katherine Dorroh is the only announced candidate for that position, and her campaign is building up steam.
A victory by Judge Garrett (who will probably run unopposed) will open up another seat on the Caddo bench, which could set in motion another judicial re-alignment. Despite it all, the wheels of justice will continue to roll; for a score card on which judge will be where and when, tune in for future columns.