DSA New Orleans 2020

Voter Guide

Judge - Judicial District Court

Jefferson Parish District Judge 24th Judicial District Court, ES 2, Div. B

Six year terms, no term limits. Two Republicans face off to fill the seat of Judge Cornelius "Conn" Regan, who is restricted from running again by his age.

Chris Cox is a career prosecutor with experience as an ADA, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Jefferson Parish Executive Assistant District Attorney. Cox was also called in to clean up the parish’s mess in 2010 as Chief Administrative Officer following a series of scandals in parish government.

Cox touts the endorsement of Crimefighters of Louisiana, a reactionary group devoted to protecting “victim’s rights” by expanding the carceral state, as well as the Jefferson Parish Republican Party. His campaign plays up his record of convictions of “murderers, rapists, robbers, drug dealers, and scammers.” All available information points to Cox being a pro-prosecution judge who would continue to deepen the excesses of the racist, classist criminal punishment system.

Pat Rooney is a private practice attorney with 30 years of experience who currently works in the family firm that handles divorce, personal injury, and bankruptcy cases. Rooney previously ran for Jefferson Parish 1st Parish Court, Div. B, in 2014, losing a runoff to John Lee, Jr.

Rooney’s pitch to voters relies heavily on an average Joe persona and years of experience, as well as an endorsement from State Rep. Joe Stagni, one of the 23 Republicans who joined with House Democrats to elect Clay Schexnayder speaker of the House. Rooney’s website and social media give little idea of how he’d serve as a judge or even why he’s running at all.

Jefferson Parish District Judge 24th Judicial District Court, ES 2, Div. H

Two Republicans are vying for a seat vacated by Glenn Ansardi, who is not allowed to run again due to age restrictions.

Chick Foret was a long-time prosecutor and drug warrior, with stints as an Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney and an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He served on a task force to fight drug trafficking under President Reagan. After his run as a prosecutor, he spent 20 years in private practice, notably suing BP on behalf of businesses affected by the 2010 oil spill. You may have seen him on WWL, where he’s appeared as a legal analyst for 19 years.

Foret has been endorsed by Jefferson Parish DA Paul Connick, several parish council members, and Crimefighters, a “victim’s rights” organization aiming to somehow make the justice system more punitive and cruel. With more endorsements from state legislators and the parish GOP, Foret appears to be the establishment’s pick in this race. It seems obvious he’d be a “tough on crime” judge who’d help deepen the inequities of the legal system.

Jerry Smith was also a long-time prosecutor, spending 13 years as an ADA in Orleans, St. Tammany, and Jefferson Parishes. In 2015, he moved into private practice, dealing with family law, administrative law, and storm damage disputes.

Smiths campaign boasts of his record as a prosecutor, even calling out specific murder prosecutions, as well as his experience as an adjunct professor at Tulane and his charity work. Smith’s campaign seems to be mostly bland platitudes, but his career as a prosecutor is a concern.

Justice of the Peace

Justice of the Peace, 7th Justice Court

Four year term; no term limits. There are a number of low-profile races for Justice of the Peace and Constable positions in parishes around Orleans. It was difficult or impossible to find contact info for many of them, and we only received one response to our survey. Because of this lack of information and the huge number of other races, we have decided not to cover these races. We do want to honor the campaign of our only respondent.

Michele Peters Holmes, a Democrat incumbent, faces a challenge from two Independent candidates, Renee Washington and John Conner. Holmes is endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government.

Renee Washington is a realtor, minister, retired JPSO Commander and youth advocate who volunteers at Rivarde Youth Center. She has said of the mentality she will bring to office if elected:“...[S]ervice originates in the heart. Compassion, the ability to care and fairness must lead the list of good personality traits of a servant.” Washington has made many of the usual promises of fairness and impartiality. In her response to our survey, she wrote that the court had a responsibility to allow partial payments or waive court fines or fees based on the defendant's inability to pay, and in diagnosing Louisiana’s problem of mass incarceration she pointed to bias in our justice systems and spoke of poverty as a base cause of crime. Washington wrote she supports the death penalty only in the case of serial murderers, and supports the use of multiple offender laws if “the defining mandatory sentence is employed for a serious or violent felony”. She also wrote she was “not a proponent of criminalizing marijuana” and hinted at the racism that has affected enforcement of marijuana laws.