Caraway vs. Cox
Last Saturday’s election to fill the seat on the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal left vacant when Judge James Stewart was elected Caddo Parish District Attorney probably didn’t generate much attention in Bossier Parish as only voters in Caddo Parish cast votes in the election.
But another election for a seat on the court will be on the November ballot – and Bossier voters will be casting ballots in this election, as well as voters in Claiborne, Union, Lincoln, Caldwell, Bienville, Jackson and Winn Parishes. This time, Bossier-Webster District Judge Jeff Cox is challenging veteran Appeal Court Judge Jay Caraway for a seat on the court.
It’s anticipated that voters will be hearing from and about these candidates – so here’s a preview, with more to come over the next few months.
Caraway has held this seat without challenge for 20 years and believes voters have good reason to vote to keep him on the appellate bench. “I think that there’s a couple of reasons. Number one, our court is on the verge of some transition. We just lost Judge Stewart; we have two or three other members that are term-limited at this point.
Judge (Henry) Brown and Judge (Harmon) Drew are in their last terms – from the Bossier –Webster area, and so I think that my experience is still needed on the Court.
And most importantly, you don’t do anything … in a Court of Appeal setting unless you have camaraderie with the people that you have there, and we get along well … we disagree at times, but we get along well and therefore the experience that I do have as one of the senior judges – third in line behind Judge Brown, Judge Williams, and then myself – is important for what we do,” Caraway explained.
“The more you have seen, the more you understand the entanglements that come before us and on how to work through the law and get to the better answer,” he said.
Caraway recalled his legal experience, starting with 15 years at the Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin & Roberts law firm. “It was an interesting situation in 1996, there was no district judge from the 26th Judicial District Court in Bossier and Webster that was running for it, so I gave it a shot and went straight up. Of course, Judge Brown did the same thing – went straight from the DA’s office … the district judge experience is important, but it’s no longer essential given everything I’ve seen for 20 years.“
And, number two: I’ve tried enough cases that I understood the critical issues that come up that a trial judge sees. And so I never thought that was a disadvantage in any way.”
Caraway is a honor graduate of the LSU Law Center, earning membership in the Order of the Coif, graduating in the top ten percent of his class. He was appointed by the Supreme Court to serve in the Judiciary Committee, which deals with ethical issues, and was invited to serve as an adjunct professor at the LSU Law Center.
Many voters who received Cox’s Christmas postcard likely wondered if it was an early campaign announcement – and it was. Cox said he’s running, “Because I believe the people deserve someone that is out there for service; I believe that we represent the population – we represent the people and I want to be able to do that. I have prayed about this a lot and talked to my family a lot about this and we discussed it. It’s something that was laid on my heart that this is a job that I want to do … it’s not that I’m running against anyone; it’s that I’m running to do the job … ” Cox said.
Cox has been a judge on the Bossier-Webster bench for 11 years and believes that experience along with his business background are important considerations in his candidacy. “I think I bring a wealth of experience from being on the trial bench — I think I bring a wealth of business information”, as a result of his family’s cemetery and funeral home business.
Additional considerations include his experience as a prosecutor with the Bossier-Webster District Attorney’s Office and as an attorney in private practice. “I handled numerous misdemeanor type trials; I handled felonies. I handled several jury trials before I was elected to be a judge,” Cox said. In addition to his law degree, Cox has earned an advanced degree in tax law. He also teaches at the Criminal Justice Academy and is a seminar speaker on subjects that include domestic violence.
Marty Carlson is a
columnist for the BPT.
She may be reached at