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Retiring the Robe

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Victory’s decision has rumormill buzzing about state court

lou BurnettAfter wearing the judicial robe for 33 years, Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jeff Victory, 67, of Shreveport is retiring at the end of his current term on December 31, 2014.

Reliable sources tell the Fax-Net that he will not seek a third 10-year term on the state’s high court. No official public announcement has been made, however, but it is confirmed that Victory will retire.

The news of Victory’s retirement had the political rumor mill abuzz this past weekend. Much discussion had taken place on whether Victory would retire or face what would have been a tough race for re-election.

Caddo District Court Judge Scott Crichton, who has served on the bench for 23 years, had already thrown his robe into the ring and has been actively campaigning and raising money for a race against the incumbent justice.

When contacted by the Fax-Net, Crichton said, “I commend Justice Victory on three decades of judicial service, and I wish him and his family the very best.”

For now, Crichton, a Republican, is the lone candidate in the race for the 2nd District seat on the seven-member Louisiana Supreme Court. The election is scheduled for the fall of 2014.

The 2nd District consists of 11 parishes – Caddo, Bossier, Webster, DeSoto, Red River, Sabine, Natchitoches, Vernon, Beauregard, Allen, and Evangeline.

There are 409,524 registered voters in the 2nd District. Of that total, 258,949 or 63 percent are white, 133,791 or 33 percent are black, and 16,784 or 4 percent are other races. By party affiliation, 192,244 or 47 percent are Democrats, 119,704 or 29 percent are Republicans, and 97,576 or 24 percent are Other Parties.

Interestingly, of the total number of registered voters in the district, 237,436 or 58 percent reside in Caddo and Bossier parishes.

A seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court is certainly a judicial plum, and it is unlikely that Crichton will be unopposed.

In fact, the political rumor mill is already saying that 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jay Caraway, 50, a Democrat from Bossier City, is giving some thought to entering the race. He did not return a phone call from the Fax-Net over the weekend.

If anyone has ever earned his retirement, Victory has. Here is a brief look at his judicial career:

*1995-2014: Justice, Louisiana Supreme Court.

*1990-1995: Judge, Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal.

*1981-1990: Judge, 1st Judicial District, Louisiana.

*1971-1981: Attorney, Tucker, Jeter and Jackson.

 

Speaking of judicial seats…

A special election will be held on October 19 to fill the vacancy on the Caddo District Court created when Judge Jeanette Garrett was elected to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal.

Qualifying for the position is not that far away – August 14-16.

So far, two attorneys have announced they are running for the District Court robe. They are Assistant District Attorney Brady O’Callaghan and Shreveport attorney Mike Miller. Both are Republicans.

Not all of Caddo voters will get to vote in this election. The District Court is divided into three subsections. This election takes place in Section 2.

There are 54,877 registered voters eligible to cast ballots. Of that total, 36,736 or 67 percent are white, 15,618 or 28 percent are black, and 2,523 or 5 percent are other races. By party affiliation, 20,980 or 38 percent are Democrats, 20,767 or 38 percent are Republicans, and 13,130 or 24 percent are Other Parties.

The winner will serve out the remainder of Judge Garrett’s term and will have to run again in 2014 when the current six-year term for all District Court judges expire. They all face re-election in the fall of 2014.

There will be at least one vacant seat on the District Court bench when the 2014 election rolls around. Judge Scott Crichton is running for the Louisiana Supreme Court and will have to give up his District Court robe.

 

Maness making moves

Retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness, who is running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate, was in northwest Louisiana last week.

He held a Meet and Greet at Ristorante Giuseppe’s and appeared on Tom Pace’s Talk of the Town radio show. His energetic grass-roots campaign has to be annoying to U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is the state Republican Party’s anointed candidate.

Maness is a favorite of the tea party, and his campaign slogan is “Support and Defend the Constitution.”

He recently picked up another endorsement to add to those he already has. The Conservative Campaign Committee last week endorsed Maness, saying he is the best candidate to take on incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth six-year term.

Other Maness endorsements have come from the Tea Party Leadership Fund, Combat Veterans for Congress, and the National Defense PAC.

To be sure, the biggest problem for Maness is money. He will need a lot of it to get statewide name recognition and be competitive.

Landrieu already has $5.1 million in her campaign fund and Cassidy has.$3.3 million.

 

Lindy was a Lady

Lindy Boggs was one of the nicest people I have ever met. She was a part of a bygone era, which no longer exists on Capitol Hill. She passed away Saturday at the age of 97.

When I went to work as press secretary for U.S. Rep. F. Edward Hebert in Washington in 1966, Hale Boggs, Lindy’s husband, was House Majority Whip. In 1971, he became House Majority Leader.

Both Hale and Lindy were always kind and considerate to staff. Not all members of Congress are. I and other Louisiana staffers were always invited to an annual party at their home.

In 1972, Hale was campaigning for U.S. Rep. Nick Begich when the plane they were on disappeared over a remote area of Alaska.

Lindy succeeded her husband, taking office in 1973. She served as the representative of the 2nd District of Louisiana until 1991.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed her as Ambassador to the Vatican, a position she held until 2001.

Lindy was beloved by all who knew her from all walks of life and all political parties. She was always gracious, but never a patsy when advocating legislation and promoting her political philosophy.

I will write in more detail about my recollections of Lindy, particularly following the disappearance of her husband and my boss’s role in the search, in my Forum column next week.

Our prayers are with her and her family.

 

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.