Black Robe Shuffle Continues in Local Elections

Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

The flurry of judicial elections that started last fall will continue this year and next year as well for local voters. Last fall, Caddo District Judge Francis Pitman was elected by a comfortable margin to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this year Caddo District Judge Jeanette Garrett was elected without opposition to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Similarly, Shreveport attorney Katherine Dorroh was elected without opposition to the Caddo District Court.

Frances Pittman Yard Sign during election

Qualifying for the election to complete Judge Garrett’s unexpired term is June 14-16; the election is October 19. To date, only two (2) candidates have declared their intentions to run, – – Mike Miller and Brady O’Callaghan. Names of several prominent attorneys have been also mentioned for this election, although to date none of these attorneys have committed to the race.

The terms of the eleven (11) Caddo judgeships and the six (6) Bossier/Webster judgeships all expire in 2014, and there will be at least one open judgeship in both of these courts. Caddo Judge Scott Crichton has launched his campaign for the Louisiana Supreme Court and thus his seat will be open. Bossier/Webster (26th Judicial District) Judge Johnny Robinson has announced his intentions to retire at the end of 2014.

All Caddo judges
All Caddo judges

Although there are no announced candidates for Crichton’s seat, courthouse watchers believe that Erin Leigh Waddell Garrett, the daughter of Caddo Chief Judge Bobby Waddell, will qualify. If elected, Erin and her dad will be the first father-daughter judges to serve on the same court, at the same time, in Louisiana. (Shreveport has the first husband-wife judicial tandem, – – Second Circuit Judge Francis Pitman and Caddo District Judge Mike Pitman.) Chris Victory, the son of Supreme Court Justice Jeff Victory, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate along with Shreveport attorney Jason Waltman for the Crichton seat.

Caddo Judge Leon Emanuel may retire at the end of his term next year; he is expected to announce his intentions by the end of the year. If Judge Leon does not run for re-election, several candidates can be expected for this minority district judgeship. Those that may seek the bench include Caddo Assistant District Attorney Karelia Stewart (the daughter of Second Circuit Judge James Stewart), Ron Stamps and Alex Washington.

On the east side of the river, several barristers will most likely seek to replace Judge Robinson. These include Bossier-Webster Assistant District Attorney Charles Jacobs who has offices in Minden and Springhill, and Shreveport attorney Cynthia Carroll. Other attorneys who have expressed interest in donning a black robe include John Bokenfohr and Randy Robinson; Whit Graves, who ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for judge, may also be a candidate.

Some of the courthouse crowd think that Judge Ford Stinson may not seek re-election as well; Stinson has been very hush-mouthed about his intentions. In the event he does retire next year, there would be a second open seat on the Bossier/Webster bench.

Needless to say, the chatter in the courthouse halls will continue about candidates and judge retirements until the 2013 and 2014 elections are concluded. If the pay raise for judges is enacted, there will probably be more interest in these races. Campaign expenses for a judicial race can easily exceed $200,000.00, – – thus the price for admission to the Black Robe Club is too high for many judge wannabes. Qualifying for the 2014 judicial election is a year away, and no doubt there will be substantial jockeying among potential candidates in the coming months.