Well, its not exactly like fruit basket turnover, but its pretty close. The next few months will see big changes in not only who will be wearing black robes in the Caddo courts, but also in where… as in which courts. Without a scorecard, the average visitor to the Caddo Courthouse will probably not know in which court to find a particular judge.
For starters, Grady O’Callaghan will be sworn in as judge on November 15, and will start in criminal court on Monday, November 18. Judge Joe Bleich, who has very ably filled in since the election of Judge Jeanette Garrett to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, will go to the house, — but not for long.
Judge Bleich will reportedly be back on January 1, 2014 to serve out the unexpired term of Judge Leon Emanuel who is retiring on December 31. Bleich will serve until a successor to Judge Leon is elected in the November 2014 general election.
Also on January 1st Judge Mike Pitman will move from the domestic bench to the civil bench, taking over Judge Leon’s docket. Pitman’s decision to move courts surprised all courthouse personnel, — and disappointed lawyers who across the board give Judge Mike good reviews in domestic court.
The move by Pitman will leave an open seat in the domestic bench. Judge Craig Marcotte could move from drug court, although he has indicated he will stay put. Judge Katherine Dorroh would then have the option to move to domestic court; Dorroh has indicated she will probably stay a little longer in criminal court. Assuming no moves by Marcotte or Dorroh, Judge Bleich will most likely start in domestic court on January 1st.
All the other judges will remain in their respective spots, — for a month. In what can only be called a major shocker, Judge Brun will become the Judicial Administrator on February 1st, replacing Judge Eugene Bryson. Brun’s departure from the civil bench will trigger another court selection process by the remaining judges, who pick their court on the basis of seniority. Most attorneys practicing in Brun’s court are extremely disappointed by his move from the bench to judicial administration.
Informed sources believe that Judge Ramon Lafitte will then move from the domestic bench to the civil bench. Assuming this happens, Marcotte and then Dorroh could select domestic court. And if by some long shot Lafitte does not move, then Marcotte will certainly jump at the chance to move to the civil bench.
It is unknown, at this juncture, who will be appointed by the Supreme Court to fill Judge Brun’s seat until the November election. Courthouse sources believe Judge Bryson will seek its appointment, and if so he has the inside track. Whoever is appointed as judge pro term will take either go to the domestic bench or the criminal bench, depending on the decisions of Lafitte, Marcotte and Dorroh. (Confusing, right?)
And if this is not enough, the November general election (and possibly December run-off) will see more changes on the Caddo bench. Three new judges will be elected to fill the seats of Judge Leon and Judge Brun as well as Judge Crichton who is running for the Supreme Court. The elections will again trigger court selection by the judges and the judicial carousel will crank up once again.