Louisiana Supreme Court elections, 2004-2009
2009 Supreme Court race
- See also: 2009 state Supreme Court elections
A vacancy on the Louisiana Supreme Court was created with the 2009 retirement of Justice Chet Traylor. Pineville attorney Jimmy Faircloth campaigned for the seat against eventual winner 4th District Judge Marcus Clark.
The candidates have said that they are interested in debating one another prior to Saturday's election, but a time and date have yet to be set. Local networks have agreed to televise the debate, should it occur. 
Jimmy Faircloth is a trial attorney in Pineville and the former executive counsel to Governor Bobby Jindal, a position which he resigned in order to run for the Supreme Court. He is a "lifelong conservative", according to his campaign website,  and is endorsed by Governor Jindal. 
Faircloth Interview on KALB
The Louisiana Supreme Court's Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee issued a statement on September 24, 2009 that Clark misrepresented a Supreme Court decision in a judicial discipline case for which Judge Clark received a sanction. The following quote attributed to Judge Clark appeared in a campaign flyer: "Case overload can impact case disposition. As a first time judge, I fell behind on some cases and I was sanctioned." The Oversight Committee noted that in his discipline hearing it was found that "it was clear that these cases simply fell through the cracks on account of Judge Clark’s own inefficiency, rather than that of the district court or excessive demands upon his time." Clark was suspended from judicial office for thirty days without pay and was fined $714 of legal fees.  As such, the suggestion in Clark's campaign flyer that cases were overlooked due to case overload is misleading, according to the Oversight Committee. 
As of the reporting date September 17, 2009, Faircloth is shown as having received $208,317.15 in contributions and $100 in other receipts. He also borrowed $45,000, for total receipts of $253,417.15. As of the report date, Faircloth had only $5,704.72 in cash on hand.
"Clark reported receipts of $155,324.62, including a $50,000 loan to himself, and $89,184 cash on hand at the start of the reporting period. After expenditures, he reported $102,726.36 in cash on hand."
Additional Clark campaign video can be seen here.
2008 General election
Two seats on the seven-member Louisiana Supreme Court were decided in 2008, determining the next Chief Justice of the court and also possibly impacting the judicial philosophies represented on the court. Candidates for the court campaign in partisan elections for ten-year terms.
- In the First District, Republicans Jimmy Kuhn and Greg Guidry were the top two vote-getters in an October 4 primary. The incumbent in the seat, Chief Justice Pascal Calogero, has retired. This outcome means that a Republican will win the seat in the November 4 election; the first time in 36 years that the First District will not have been represented by a Democrat.
- In the Fifth District, sixteen-year incumbent Kitty Kimball, a Democrat, was re-elected on Saturday, October 4, winning 65% of the vote against Republican challenger Jeff Hughes. She will now become the Chief Justice of the state's high court; a position that automatically goes to the justice on the court with the most seniority.
Greg Guidry won a seat on the Supreme Court with 160,893 votes (60%) to Jimmy Kuhn's 108,541 (40%) with all precincts reporting.
Background on First District
Retiring Justice Calogero has been considered more liberal on liability and tax issues. The campaign to fill the opening on the court created by his resignation therefore represents what one newspaper article calls an "historic chance" to shift the balance on the court toward a conservative judicial philosophy with regard to tort reform and similar issues. The borders of the First District were re-drawn after Calogero's last race for the seat, taking out Orleans Parish, which is heavily Democratic. The current district consists of parts of Jefferson Parish, and the north shore parishes of St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington.
Contest for First Supreme Court District
October 4 Vote Totals
The election results for the three candidates for Justice Calogero's first district seat on the court were, with 504 of 515 precincts reporting:
- Republican Judge Jimmy Kuhn of Pontchatoula: 32,533 votes (30%)
- Republican Judge Greg Guidry of Jefferson Parish: 44,491 votes (42%)
- Democratic Judge Roland Belsome of New Orleans was eliminated in the October 4 primary, with 30,180 votes (28%),
Guidry and Kuhn both say that they advocate a philosophy of judicial restraint, emphasizing that they are "jurists whose decisions are based only on the facts of each case and the law as written by the Legislature.",
Greg Guidry has received funding from all "four political action arms" of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (which has also endorsed current Justice Kitty Kimball); as a result, he is frequently identified as the most pro-business candidate in the race. Responding to this, Guidry says that the fact that he has received support from the business community will not influence his opinions as a justice, saying that all his "rulings will be based on 'the law and facts of the case.'" Guidry has criticized lawyers who in his view take advantage of the justice system by filing frivolous and bloated lawsuits. "I am against those who try to unfairly and improperly profit from our system of justice through frivolous lawsuits or lawsuits that have no merit." Guidry has stated that he would be in favor of publicly financed judicial campaigns. Critics say Guidry failed to tow ethical lines when he sent out Supreme Court support sequesters on his 5th Circuit Court stationery. Guidry has denied any ethical footfalls, but admits that including the seal on the letterhead was a wrong move. Guidry says that the biggest issue confronting voters in who they choose is selecting a candidate "who will work hard to improve public confidence in a court system that many citizens don't believe is always fair and even-handed".
Judge Kuhn makes note of his experience as a competitive edge coming into October's election. "Kuhn said that last year the 1st Circuit, with 12 judges, decided 787 appeals while the 4th and 5th circuits combined, with 20 judges, decided only 628 cases." Kuhn hopes to protect the court from political influence: "The court is under attack from groups who want to make it strictly a political contest rather than what's best for the court system in this state. Whether they are from the right or the left, they are on a mission for this, and it's no-holds-barred." While he doesn't support public financing for judicial races, he believes the legislature is the final and sole arbitrator of the issue. Opponents question Kuhn's failure to honor a $170,000 loan guarantee repayment pledge he made in 2001. Kuhn has said he's looking into solving the dispute.
Kuhn says that the biggest issue confronting voters is selecting a justice is the need to increase the qualifications of candidates for judicial office in the state, and improving the way judicial elections are run. Kuhn also believes that the Louisiana Supreme Court needs to "more vigorously supervise" the state's intermediate appellate courts in the wake of recent revelations that between February 1994 and May 2007, appeals filed in the 5th Circuit by prisoners without attorneys were not reviewed by three-judge panels as the law requires.
In April, six months before the October 4 primary, GOP candidate and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Greg Guidry of Nine Mile Point in Jefferson Parish had $59,419 on hand, after raising $27,850 in contributions and repaying $63,379 in loans — most from Guidry himself. First Circuit Court Judge Jimmy Kuhn of Ponchatoula, in Tangipahoa Parish, reported $7,536, after raising $46,900 in contributions and spending $30,235 without any loan activity. All three are running for Pascal Calogero's seat, and Calogero's district includes all of St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes, as well as parts of both Orleans and Jefferson parishes.
To search for a particular candidate's contributions, visit the State of Louisiana Campaign Finance database.
The Times-Picayune has endorsed Greg Guidry for the 1st Supreme Court district.
In a statement dated 11/2/08, the Louisiana Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee acknowledges that it received a complaint about an advertisement used by the Guidry campaign that cites the case Hamilton v. Royal Int'l Petroleum Corp. (2006). The trial court found the tax sale that resulted in plaintiff losing his home was valid; the Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court upheld the trial court's decision, noting that "Due process fundamentally requires notice and an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner before the state deprives the person of property, which was done in this case."
Contest for 5th Supreme Court district
Current Justice Kitty Kimball, of the Fifth District, was up for re-election from her district. Her opponent was Jeff Hughes, and the contest was settled on Saturday, October 4 in Kimball's favor. Kimball, having succeeded in her quest for re-election, is now the most tenured Justice on the court. Since the court's Chief Justice seat is always filled with the justice with the most seniority on the court, she will become the court's Chief Justice, making her the first female Chief Justice of this court.
By the end of September, Justice Kimball had collected more than $630,000 in campaign contributions; Jeff Hughes sustained his campaign with a $206,000 loan--the only funding he reported.
The 2006 elections
The 2004 elections
- NOLA.com Endorsements: Greg Guidry
- Louisana Supreme Court rules on conduct of judicial elections
- Justice at Stake 2006 election results
- "Rent-a-Justice", Jonathan Turley, 2/3/08
- Candidates who signed up for fall elections
- Kimball, Hughes battle over report, meeting
- Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio Lead TV Spending Surge in State Supreme Court Races
- Candidates file for Supreme Court seats
- Importance of electing good judges
- Candidates qualify for Louisiana Supreme Court, appeals judge, PSC
- U.S. special interest groups pour funds into state court elections
- Special interests pour millions into judicial races
- ↑ Louisiana Secretary of State Multi-Parish Candidate Data Inquiry
- ↑ The Town Talk "Debate between Louisiana Supreme Court candidates in doubt", October 9, 2009
- ↑ Jimmy Faircloth campaign website
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 The Town Talk "District 4 Supreme Court race far from dull -- or positive", September 27, 2009
- ↑ Clark campaign website:Endorsements
- ↑ In re Judge Marcus Clark, 2003-O-2920 (p. 17)
- ↑ "The Louisiana Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee has issued a Public Statement", September 24, 2009
- ↑ The Times-Picayune, "2 Republican judges to face off for high court seat", October 5, 2008
- ↑ The Advocate, "Kimball crushes competition for seat", October 5, 2008
- ↑ Supreme Court results from NOLA.com
- ↑ Commentary: Jindal's bipartisan tactics take rivals by surprise
- ↑ Louisiana Advocate, "Election to replace retiring Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr.", July 15, 2008
- ↑ Race for justice has new landscape
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 Times-Picayune, "Conservatives Jimmy Kuhn and Greg Guidry battle for La. Supreme Court seat", October 23, 2008
- ↑ Race for justice has new landscape
- ↑ Race for justice has new landscape
- ↑ Race for justice has new landscape
- ↑ Best of New Orleans
- ↑ Times-Picayune endorses Guidry
- ↑ Judge triples funding of foe
|Former||James Dennis • John Fournet • Pascal Calogero • Chet Traylor • Edward Douglass White • Catherine D. Kimball • Revius Ortique, Jr. • Albert Tate, Jr. • Peter Beer •|