The judicial ranks in Caddo District Court are changing, and new judge wantabes are lining up. The action will be fast and furious in upcoming weeks and the players (i.e. attorneys) may need a score card.
First up for promotion is District Judge Jeanette Garrett, who will take her oath for the Second Circuit of Appeals on March 21. Garrett was elected without opposition to the seat to fill the unexpired term of Judge Gay Gaskins, who took early retirement.
After Garrett, Katherine Dorroh will take her oath of office for the Caddo District Court the next day, March 22. Dorroh expects to have a big April Fool’s Day, —her first day on the Caddo bench will be April 1st. She ran unopposed to fill the unexpired term of Judge Frances Pitman who moved to the Second Circuit of Appeals; taking the seat vacated by Judge Clarke Peatross’ retirement.
At this date, its an open question as to what section, i.e. type of court, Dorroh will preside over. Currently Judge Garrett is hearing domestic cases and Judge Joe Bleich is filling in as Judge pro term on the criminal bench. Caddo judges get to select court sections by seniority, —either civil, domestic or criminal. Dorroh will have the lowest seniority, and she could end up on the criminal bench if Judge Craig Marcotte ops to move to domestic court.
Marcotte is expected to stay put in drug court. In that event Dorroh will probably go to the domestic bench which, would be the highest and best use of her legal experience. Dorroh is one of the premier domestic relations attorney in Northwest Louisiana.
Garrett’s victory leaves a new judicial spot open; numerous names have surfaced as potential candidates for the fall election. Jason Waltman, who ran unsuccessfully against Garrett in 2002 for judge, was considered to be a leading candidate. Waltman has indicated however that the time is not right for him, although he may consider a run for a judicial seat in the future.
Another name that has come and gone is that of Michael Nash, an insurance defense attorney. Nash, who is relatively unknown in the Shreveport Bar, has also decided to not run for judge.
Two attorneys who have said that they are definitely in the race are Mike Miller and Brady O’Callaghan. Mike is the son of deceased attorney Don Miller, who had a very high profile career for many years with a well earned reputation for legal excellence and professionalism. Don assisted many attorneys in his career, and undoubtedly his son Mike will benefit greatly from his dad’s legacy. Miller shared a practice with his father, primarily focusing in civil and domestic cases; he has been a part time indigent defense counsel in the 26th Judicial Court for several years.
O’Callaghan has been with the D.A.’s office for over 10 years, and he generally prosecutes the very serious crimes. He may run into some resistance from his alleged involvement in the so-called Zombie Response Team. This group was reportedly part of the Militia Gate controversy at the D.A.’s office that involved the acquisition of 8 machine guns, and ultimately the departure of Lea Hall and Hugo Holland, two senior assistant district attorneys, from that office. The Don Ashley-Charles Scott whistleblower lawsuit scheduled for July could bring out information harmful to O’Callaghan’s judicial aspirations.
Its early yet in the candidate identification season for a fall election, and its possible other attorneys will decide to run. O’Callaghan and Miller are not that well known, and some of the court house crowd are looking for more “seasoned” attorneys to enter this race. By late May, any serious candidates will need to begin campaigning, and thus the next few months is open season for those wanting to wear a black robe in Caddo district court.