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Louisiana Supreme Court elections

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See also: Partisan election of judges

There are seven justices on the Louisiana Supreme Court, each elected to ten-year terms. They must face re-election if they wish to serve again.[1] For more information about these elections, visit the Louisiana judicial elections page.

Unlike most states, supreme court justices in Louisiana are elected to represent specific districts. The seven justices are divided evenly among seven supreme court districts (not to be confused with the 42 divisions of the district courts) and are voted into office by the residents of their respective regions.[2] Only the states of Illinois, Kentucky and Mississippi use a similar system.

The chief justice is the justice on the court with the most seniority. When he or she retires, the justice with the next most seniority becomes chief justice.[1]

Qualifications

To serve on this court, a judge must be:

  • licensed to practice law in the state for at least ten years;
  • a resident of the district representing for at least one year;
  • under the age of 70 at the time of election (judges who turn 70 in office may serve until their term expires)[1][3]

These specific requirements are fairly new; visit the History section below to see when these policies on term length and residency came into being.

Vacancies

Per Article V of the Louisiana Constitution, midterm vacancies are to be temporarily filled by the remaining members of the supreme court. Within one year of the opening, a special election (called by the governor, preferably on the date of a preexisting gubernatorial or congressional election) is to be held. If the supreme court has appointed a successor, that appointee may not run for the seat in the special election.[1][4]

This provision barring appointees from running in special elections was added to the constitution in 1974. Delegates to the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention complained that 60% of sitting judges had been initially appointed, an indication that appointees received an unfair electoral advantage. At the time, judicial vacancies were filled by the governor; the measure was enacted to (1) curtail the governor's power in the matter and (2) remove the appointees' electoral advantage.[5] United States District Judge Tom Stagg said of the clause,

Some mystique attaches itself to a man that once he achieves the seat on the bench and he puts on the black robe and then the time for the election comes for him to run permanently for that job. … I think that's an unfair advantage over every other lawyer who might want to seek that post who might be equally qualified but does not have the governor's blessing to get there in the first instance.

[6]

Tom Stagg[5]

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A vacancy on the Louisiana Supreme Court was created with the 2009 retirement of Justice Chet Traylor. 4th District Judge Marcus Clark defeated former executive counsel to Governor Bobby Jindal, Jimmy Faircloth on October 17, 2009. [7]

Candidate Incumbent SeatElection votes Election %
Marcus Clark ApprovedA No 4th District28,521 52.8%
Jimmy Faircloth No 4th District25,495 47.2%

Election results are from the Louisiana Secretary of State at this link.

Elections for two seats were held in 2008, in the First and Fifth Districts. Chief Justice Pascal Calogero retired from the court, leaving a vacancy in the First District. With the election of Greg Guidry, a Republican would represent the district on the court for the first time in thirty-six years.

Fifth District Justice Catherine Kimball was challenged in her re-election bid and won, making her the most senior justice on the court and the new Chief Justice. Kimball became the first female to serve as Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, as she had also been the first female justice on the court.[8]

Candidate Incumbent SeatPartyPrimary votesPrimary %Election votes Election %
Greg Guidry ApprovedA No 1st DistrictRepublican45,35441.4%160,893 59.7%
Jimmy Kuhn No 1st DistrictRepublican32,89030%108,541 40.2%
Roland Belsome No 1st DistrictDemocratic31,10728.4%
Candidate Incumbent SeatPartyElection votes Election %
Catherine Kimball ApprovedA Yes 5th DistrictDemocratic113,939 64.6%
Jeff Hughes No 5th District62,269 35.3%

Election results are from the Louisiana Secretary of State from October 4, 2008 and November 4, 2008.

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2004

Candidate Incumbent SeatPartyElection votes Election %
Jeffrey Victory ApprovedA Yes 2nd DistrictRepublican74,320 60.8%
Stephen B. Beasley No 2nd DistrictDemocratic47,799 39.1%

Election results are from the Louisiana Secretary of State from September 18, 2008.

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See also

External links

References

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