The Promulgator The Official Newsletter of the Lafayette Bar Association
DIVERSITY IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION April 2016 | Volume 36 | Issue 2
Celebrating 40 Years of litigation experience, Warren A. Perrin of Perrin, Landry, deLaunay is now accepting referrals in sports accidents, including swimming pools and trampolines. Adjunct professor of sports law at University of Louisiana at Lafayette (1986-1996) Member, National Collegiate Weightlifting Championship team, University of Louisiana Inductee, University of Louisiana S Club Athletic Hall of Fame, 1987
Legal Publications: American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administration Manual Editor: Dr. Gerald S George Associate editor: Warren A. Perrin (337) 233-5832; perrineplddo.com
Lafayette 251 La Rue France Lafayette, LA 70508 (337) 233-5832
Erath 203 S. Broadway Erath, LA 70533 (337) 233-5832
is published six times per year by the Lafayette Bar Association. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Committee. 2607 Johnston Street, Lafayette, La 70503 337-237-4700 www.lafayettebar.org The mission of the Lafayette Bar Association is to serve the profession, its members and the community by promoting professional excellence, respect for the rule of law and fellowship among attorneys and the court.
Danielle Cromwell, President Melissa L. Theriot, President-Elect Donovan J. O’Pry, Secretary/Treasurer Kyle L. Gideon, Imm. Past President
Board of Directors
Jeffrey Coreil Shannon Dartez Margo Dugas Glenn Edwards Paul Gibson Thomas Hightower Karen King Greg Koury
Cliff LaCour Daniel Landry Steve Lanza Lindsay Meador Joseph Oelkers Patsy Randall Maggie Simar Bill Stagg
Stuart Breaux, Editor Jasmine Bertrand Robert D. Felder Hallie Coreil Dwazendra Smith
On the Cover
Diversity in the Legal Profession For this issue of The Promulgator, the Editorial Committee sought out Lafayette attorneys who don’t fit the typical mold. Photographed are (L to R) Vandana Chaturvedi, William Keaty, II and Dwazendra Smith
President’s Message�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������3 LVL Honor Roll�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������4 Your Honor: Justice Jeannette Knoll�������������������������������������������������������������5 Retirement Festivities�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������7 Why I <3 Running in Heels���������������������������������������������������������������������������9 Retro Feature: “Who’s that ‘Do?”�����������������������������������������������������������������10 Cover Story - Diversity: The Inclusive Concept����������������������������������������11 Young Lawyers President’s Message������������������������������������������������������������15 Off the Beaten Path: Michelle Kallam���������������������������������������������������������17 Family Law President’s Message������������������������������������������������������������������19 Public Defender Testimonies�����������������������������������������������������������������������21 The Bar Side���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������23 Why I Bench Bar?������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 Mock Trial������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������24 The Grapevine������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������25
Upcoming Events - Professor Paul Baier will present a CLE on Holmes after the general membership meeting on May 3 at Abacus. - Running in Heels will be on May 6 at the LBA office. - A Concealed Carry CLE will be held at Barney’s on May 21.
Josette Gossen Abshire, Executive Director Claire Prejean, LVL Coordinator Cyd Cherrie-Anderson, Event Coordinator Brian Bourgeois, Marketing Coordinator Dani Romero, Administrative Assistant Nicholas Midboe, Marketing Intern
- Birdie with the Bar Golf Tournament will be held on May 20. - The Hall of Fame celebration will be on September 8.
Watch your email for the LBA weekly mailers to make sure you don’t miss out on any information you may need! Much of the information in The Promulgator has to be condensed in its print version. The full versions of these articles and much more exclusive content can be found in The Promulgator ONLINE on the LBA website.
Danielle Cromwell, LBA President The news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on February 13th was a shock to the legal community. Equally as shocking to many was the discovery of the deep and unlikely friendship between Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg. During their more than 22 years together on the United States Supreme Court, Justice Scalia, a staunch conservative, and Justice Ginsburg, a staunch liberal, rarely found themselves on the same side of issues. Scalia was a founder of the conservative Federalist Society and Ginsburg led the women’s rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union. He was a larger than life Catholic and she is a powerful petite Jew. So what could possibly connect these ideological opposites? They shared a love of opera. They grew up in New York City and attended Ivy League schools. They were both law professors and served on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. They were travel companions and shopping buddies. They spent New Year’s Eve together with their families at Justice Ginsberg’s Watergate apartment. Nino and RBG, the high court’s most famous odd couple and the subject of a recent comic opera “Scalia/Ginsburg: A (Gentle) Parody of Operatic Proportions,” stood as an example of warmth and professionalism across traditional divides. “If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake,” Scalia once said, according to Irin Carmon, co-author of the book “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we followed the example of Ginsburg and Scalia? A Pew Research Center study in 2014 found that Americans are increasingly separating themselves from others who hold different beliefs. This movement of ‘separate but equal’ has no place in our society or our profession. Professional development involves a fair amount of uncomfortableness. It might feel uncomfortable at first to interact with people who think, look, or act differently than we do, but it is in this uncomfortableness that we grow and evolve as professionals and as human beings. Being open to diversity of people and perspective does not mean we have to compromise our ideals or our values. Scalia and Ginsburg certainly didn’t.
Diversity is not about quotas or different standards. Diversity is the essence of professionalism. Diversity enhances learning, knowledge, and communication, which are essential to professionalism. Successful businesses have long recognized that a multi-dimensionally workforce is crucial for commercial success and competitive edge. Globalization and shifting demographics of our country make the case for creating a diverse workforce to appeal to and effectively serve our clients. With greater diversity, we can be more creative, effective, just, and bring more varied perspectives to the practice of law and the administration of justice. Diversity in the legal profession is good for our community and critical for enhancing the public’s confidence in the judicial system. Research suggests that the best, easiest and least painful way to embrace diversity is through mentoring. Take out a legal pad. On the left side make a list of the people who mentored you and on the right side make a list of the people you are mentoring. Do you and the people who mentored you look the same as or different from the people you are mentoring? If you and both your lists look the same – the same gender, the same race, and other similarities – perhaps it is time to open up the club? The Lafayette Bar Association offers many great ways to meet new people and potential mentors or mentees. We will have a General Membership Meeting on May 3rd at Abacus to approve revisions to our Articles of Incorporation. Following the brief business meeting we will be treated to a free hour of Professionalism by LSU Law School’s own Professor Paul Baier. Please join us at our other upcoming events including Clay Shoot, Running in Heels, LYLA Golf Tournament, Concealed Carry CLE, and Law Week activities. We look forward to seeing y’all!
Lafayette Volunteer Lawyers
mediation and arbitration of complex disputes
the following attorneys have accepted one or more lvl cases in the past two months Hallie Coreil Davidson, Meaux, McElligott, Fontenot, Gideon & Edwards Ross Foote
Dean Doherty The Law Office of Dean A. Doherty
Shytishia Flugence Flugence Law Firm, LLC Valerie Garrett Valerie Gotch Garrett, APLC
Thomas Hayes, III
Ronald Hammock Attorney at Law Jonathan Jarrett The Jarrett Firm, LLC Craig Little Little & Bousquet Law Firm, LLC
Ben Mayeaux NeunerPate
The Patterson Resolution Group oﬀers dispute resolution services in complex cases to businesses and individuals across Louisiana and the Gulf South. Group members include five former presidents of the Louisiana State Bar Association and a retired district court judge. The members have substantive experience in disputes in areas such as:
Frank Neuner NeunerPate Dona Renegar Huval, Veazey, Felder & Renegar, LLC Dyan Schnaars Galloway & Jefcoat G. Andrew Veazey Huval, Veazey, Felder & Renegar, LLC
Corporate and Business
Commercial Real Estate Oil and Gas
Maritime Construction Products Liability
Healthcare Professional Liability Governmental
Contact Mike Patterson at 866-367-8620. Or visit the group’s website at www.pattersonresolution.com for more information and the article, “Getting Your Client and Yourself Ready for Mediation.”
William Vidrine Vidrine & Vidrine Patrick Wartelle Leake & Anderson, LLP
B AT O N R O U G E
L A F AY E T T E
S H R EV E P O RT
Your Honor Justice Jeannette Knoll By Danielle Cromwell
In this series, the Promulgator will features in-depth interviews with the esteemed judges of the Acadiana region. This month, the Promulgator Editorial Committee interviewed Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll. Tell us about your life prior to entering the legal field. I am from a large family—one of ten children. We were a musical family. We enjoyed music very much. Most of us sang around the piano with my mother playing it. Before becoming a lawyer, I pursued vocal studies very seriously because I wanted to become an opera singer. I won a Metropolitan Opera Scholarship to study in New York. I was there for a year but returned because of the death of my mother. I went to Loyola University in New Orleans to study political science and history. There, I met my husband, Eddie, and decided to go to law school. Tell us about the challenges of being a female lawyer when you first began practicing. How have things changed? In central Louisiana, there were no practicing women attorneys at that time. There were very few female professionals in the state at all. Being part of a great minority in the Bar Association really didn’t present any particular challenges other than that I was recognized as unconventional at the time. I was bit of a novelty. Once a gentleman came into my office just so that he could “see what a lady lawyer looks like.” In 1982, I was the first woman ever elected to a reviewing bench in the state. I was honored to serve for 14 years on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal before being elected in 1996 to the Louisiana Supreme Court. What motivated you to run for the appellate bench? I wanted to stop doing trial work. I had five young boys at the time. While I was practicing, I would have to go home during trial recesses to go nurse whoever the infant du jour was at the time. Serving on the appellate bench allowed me to do the work that I love and pursue the career that I wanted while joyfully tending to my obligations as wife and mother.
What aspect of your job as a judge leaves you most satisfied and least satisfied? I get the most satisfaction out of working hard to make a difference for the people of this great state. The aspect of the job that is most difficult is the number of hours I have to spend working every week. Literally, I work almost every day of the week. It is difficult to miss out on so much family time. Writing briefs to the Supreme Court and oral arguments can be intimidating. What are the common mistakes you see and what advice do you have for the lawyers who are preparing to argue a case before you? The most common mistake is failure to be thoroughly prepared, especially when the attorney was not trial counsel and is unfamiliar with the record. We grant so few cases for oral argument, and it is always very disappointing when a lawyer dismisses a question we have for him/her by responding that he/she was not trial counsel and, therefore, is not familiar with the record. A much better answer would be, “I am so sorry I do not know the answer to that question. May I submit a short supplemental brief to address that point?” What is the most memorable case you have ever worked on in your career? State v. Silton James was a case I tried as an indigent defense attorney shortly after law school. Mr. James was an African American man charged with the aggravated rape of a white woman, and he was facing the electric chair. He was truly innocent. I am very proud
that I successfully defended him and saved his life. Shortly after the trial was over, the jury had the pen with which they signed the “not guilty” verdict mounted on a wood plaque to present to me. I first gave that pen to the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame when I was inducted in 2000. I then donated the pen and plaque to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame when I was inducted, along with my entire family, in 2007. What would people be surprised to know about you? People would probably be surprised to know that my background is in classical vocal studies and singing. I still sing on occasion for various events. When I was younger, I played Maria in a local production of Sound of Music and Eliza Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady. Can you tell me about someone who has mentored you? Professor Dan Meador who was my thesis professor at University of Virginia had a great influence on me. At his request, I wrote my L.L.M. thesis on the manifest error doctrine. He is a nationally recognized authority in appellate practice and procedure. Many lawyers feel like they are too busy to mentor a younger lawyer or they do not know how to mentor. What advice do you have regarding mentoring? I strongly believe in mentoring and encourage more experienced members of the bar to reach out to newer members who show they are in need of mentoring. Mentoring is a way of “paying back” the profession. It is giving guidance to an inexperienced member of the bar, and the mentor should advise on whatever issues would help. I recognize it could be a bit of a burden, but the satisfaction one receives from mentoring far outweighs the burden. Are you looking forward to retirement? How do you plan to spend your time? Very much! When I retire, I will have been a jurist for 34 years. I am ready for some much needed relaxation and family time. I enjoy babysitting my grandchildren now, and I look forward to having much more time for them after I retire. What are you proudest of personally and professionally? I am most proud that I have been married for 49 years to Eddie— who has been a successful and honest attorney in his own right and who served as District Attorney of Avoyelles Parish for 30 years— and that together, even amidst our separate careers, we raised five sons of whom we are very proud. Professionally, I am most proud that the people of this state gave me their trust in four elections over 34 years. It has been my privilege and honor to serve them as a jurist.
Retirement Festivities A celebration was held for Justice Jeannette Knoll after the announcement of her retirement. This party was hosted by the Judges of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal, and celebrated the career of Justice Knoll with her family, friends, and colleagues all in one place. The next week, Judge Richard Haikâ€™s retirement ceremony was held at the Federal Courthouse in Lafayette. In attendance at the
event were Acadiana area attorneys, judges, family, friends and colleagues of Judge Haik. A celebration afterwards was hosted by the Federal Bar and Lafayette Bar Association. The Lafayette Bar staff attended both events to take the pictures below.
Jason Matt presented gifts on behalf of many of Judge Haikâ€™s former law clerks Judge Thibodeaux and the other Judges of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals gave Justice Knoll a special painting as a retirement gift
Heather Edwards (President of the Federal Bar), Judge Haik and Danielle Cromwell
Dwazendra Smith, Justice Knoll and Dona Renegar
Judge Haik, his wife, and some of the many law clerks who have worked for him. Justice Knoll adresses friends and family during her retirement celebration
The Lafayette Bar Association’s 100% Club is a special category of member firms who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the work done through LBA programs and services in the legal profession and the community. These firms with two or more attorneys have indicated their commitment by having 100 percent of their attorneys as members of the LBA. The LBA makes it easy to join. We can provide a group renewal invoice as well as individual invoices for your attorneys to make the process as easy and convenient as possible. Member firms receive special recognition in the LBA’s magazine The Promulgator, on the LBA website, and at selected events. You will also be sent a 100% Club logo for your firm to use on your website and for your own
marketing purposes. Contact Brian Bourgeois (brian@lafayettebar. org) to join the LBA 100% Club. Membership in the 100% Club is free, but you must register to be included. If you think your firm is eligible, email a list of your firm’s attorneys and a contact name to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know! If an attorney is not a current member, you can go online to www.lafayettebar.org and complete a membership application. As a member of the 100% Club, one invoice can be sent to your firm for the dues of all of your attorneys. Simply fill out the form in the insert and send it to the Lafayette Bar Association at 2607 Johnston Street, Lafayette, LA 70503.
Retro Feature: “Who’s that ‘Do?” This issue’s “Retro Feature” is all about hair! We looked back into our Membership Directories from 1989-1992 and pulled a few photos of our members. Can you put a name to the ‘do? If you know whose hair this is, call or email Brian at the LBA office for a special prize at (337) 237-4700 or email@example.com
THE FOLLOWING FIRMS ARE PART OF OUR 100% CLUB. THEY HAVE MORE THAN TWO ATTORNEYS, ALL OF WHOM ARE LBA MEMBERS Andrus, Boudreaux, Landry & Coussan Borne, Wilkes & Rabalais Boustany Law Firm
Congratualtions to our winner last issue, Robin Magee, who was the first to correctly name all of the lovebirds in the February issue and won a free registration to Running in Heels! For those who didn’t know who they were: A. Ed and Elaine Abell B. Patrick and Carolyn Michot C. Judge Jules Edwards III and Orida Edwards D. Jack and Marilyn Castle E. Cary and Angela Bryson F. M’Elise and John Trahan
Briney Foret Correy
Why I <3 Running in Heels
Broussard & David Broussard & Kay
BY Dona Renegar
Cafferey, Oubre, Campbell & Garrison Daigle Rayburn Davidson, Meaux, Sonnier, McElligott, Fontenot, Gideon & Edwards Domingeaux, Wright, Roy Edwards & Colomb Gachassin Law Firm Juneau David Law Office of Kenneth W. DeJean Onebane Law Firm Simien & Miniex Tuten Title & Escrow Preis PLC
Running in Heels was the brainchild of LBA former president, Rebekah Huggins. I was unable to attend the CLE in its inaugural year but have not missed the annual event since. The CLE offers a safe venue for women to freely exchange ideas and concerns unique to their gender about the practice of law. I am always impressed with the honesty displayed by the attendees and the encouragement to discuss diverging viewpoints on various issues. I am intrigued by the many different personalities and points of view, all of whom enjoy success in the practice of law by playing to their strengths. Over the years the topics have varied from quality of life discussions to all types of legal practices to advice particular to female attorneys regarding litigation, compensation, and advancement in the profession. I believe the seminar organizers pay particular attention to the evaluations and craft the following year’s CLE with the suggestions from attendees as their foremost concern.
WHOâ€™S THAT â€˜DO? B
2016 Past Presidents Dinner The Lafayette Bar Association hosted a dinner for its Past Presidents on Thursday, February 25, 2016. Dozens of past presidents attended the event along with the current president, Danielle Cromwell, and members of the executive committee. Special thanks to Jack and Lucie McElligott for hosting such a lovely event at their home. Kyle Gideon, Danielle Cromwell, Miles Matt and Kenny Oliver
Frank Neuner, Greg Tonore, Lane Roy and Jack McElligott
Past Presidents of LBA who were in attendance at the dinner
2016 Past Presidents Dinner
Diversity: The Inclusive Concept
By Dwazendra J. Smith Diversity in the legal profession is a hot topic. Diversity is an inclusive concept which includes, but is not limited to, race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity and disability. It is ever evolving and requires continuous effort and commitment from all of us. If successful, it will promote inclusion and prevent discrimination. While it appears that diversity is a widely accepted concept, diversifying is an abysmally slow process and is seldom actually realized in the legal profession. According to the ABA’s most recent Lawyer Demographics Survey, statistics show that 88.1% of lawyers are White, 4.8% are Black, 3.7% are Hispanic and 3.4% are Asian Pacific Americans. 70% of attorneys are males and 30% of attorneys are females. 4% of attorneys are 29-years-old or younger, 9% are 30-34, 13% are 35-39, 13% are 40-44, 28% are 45-54, 21% are 55-64 and 13% are 65+. The median age is 49.
we are all the same, but mostly we are all unique individuals with a myriad of characteristics based mostly on our personal experiences and backgrounds. Diversity is a recognition of those differences.
Through increased diversity, our profession will benefit from varying perspectives, experiences and socioeconomic backgrounds that are thought-provoking and could influence our ideas and mores. William Keaty, II, Dwazendra J. Smith, Robert B. Vincent and Vandana Chaturvedi were interviewed regarding their thoughts on diversity in our legal profession. All four of our interviewees are diverse in age, race, disability and religion.
Q: What do you think we can do as attorneys to help and/or what role can we play in diversifying the legal profession even more? A: We should be open-minded in our hiring practices and be willing to consider non-traditional candidates as employees and clients.
Mr. William Keaty, II is a partner at Keaty & Tilly, LLC. His practice primarily includes Family Law and Estate Planning. He attended Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 2012, at the age of 38, he was admitted to practice law in Louisiana. Prior to going to law school, he used his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology to work in the field of mental health in Colorado. During his visits to his mom’s, Judge Phyllis Keaty, courtroom, Mr. Keaty would witness attorneys advocating zealously on behalf of children and their families. It was then that he realized that he wanted to pursue law so that he too could make a difference in the lives of children and their families. Mr. Keaty lives in Maurice with his wife, daughter and two sons. Q: What is diversity to you? A: I feel that diversity is a recognition of reality. Our minds like to classify, compartmentalize and categorize everything we perceive, which makes it easier to cope with our day-to-day experiences. The truth is that on some level
Q: Why do you think diversity is important in the legal profession? A: I believe one of a lawyer’s most important attributes is empathy. To represent clients fully, we need to be able to stand in their shoes. Without diversity, there would be a disconnect between the profession and those who require adequate representation.
Q: When lay people think of a lawyer, what do you think they picture and why is that? A: A successful, suit-wearing, ambitious, middle-aged white male. Q: What can we do as lawyers to change the image that lay people have with regards to lawyers and diversity? A: Get active in the community. Offer your services to those who are less fortunate and be kind and courteous to everyone. Q: What was your experience being a non-traditional student and starting your legal career later in life? A: It gave me perspective and confidence which I may not have had as a freshfrom-college younger man. Q: How has starting your legal career at an older age impacted the way you practice law and/or your outlook on the legal profession? A: Again, perspective which has allowed me to be more empathetic and experience which has given me perspective.
Q: Do you think there is a generational difference between yourself and other attorneys? If so, how does that affect the way that you practice law? A: Surprisingly, the attorneys who have started practicing around the same time as me but are younger, have been quite relatable, but for their proficiency in technology, which I find more difficult to adapt to. Q: What advice do you have for other non-traditional attorneys who are “new attorneys” but became an attorney at a later age? A: Embrace your experience and perspective and don’t feel less adequate. Ms. Dwazendra Smith is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana. She is an associate at Doran & Cawthorne, PLLC. Her practice includes Family Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury and Business and Commercial Litigation. She attended Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and was admitted in Louisiana in 2009. She was also admitted in Texas in 2015. Ms. Smith has always wanted to be an attorney since childhood to help others and make a difference in the world. She feels that regardless of socioeconomic status, everyone should have access to the legal system and access to attorneys who will zealously represent them. She is currently the President of the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association (LYLA) and the first African-American President of the organization. She is the proud mother of her beautiful daughter, Dhaija. Q: What is diversity to you? A: Simply put, I believe that diversity means different. It means that each individual is unique and acceptance and understanding are paramount. Diversity encompasses a melting pot of different races, ages, creeds, skin colors, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, ideas and ideologues. Q: Why do you think diversity is important in the legal profession? A: I think diversity is especially important in the legal profession because we, as attorneys, law makers, members of the judiciary and members of the legal profession, represent and act on behalf of the community. The community is diverse in race, age, creed, skin color, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability, culture, ideas and ideologues. As such, we need to have people in the legal community from different backgrounds with different races, ages, creeds, skin colors, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, ideas and ideologues to accurately represent the community as a whole. Q: What do you think we can do as attorneys to help and/or what role can we play in diversifying the legal profession even more? A: I think that we have to show our future leaders that they are capable of becoming attorneys. Often times when you don’t see a lot of people who look like you in a profession, you may be discouraged from thinking you can become an attorney. I think that in this area we are already doing a good job in diversifying the legal profession. For example, Northside High School has an Academy of Legal Studies. This academy equips students with the necessary tools and resources needed to prepare them for the legal
field. But for this Academy of Legal Studies, some of the students may not have otherwise been able to actively pursue their dreams of becoming attorneys. Q:When lay people think of a lawyer, what do you think they picture and why is that? A:When picturing a lawyer, I think that lay people picture an affluent middle-aged Caucasian male. Historically, this has been the image that lay people have seen through tv, films and the media. Q: What can we do as lawyers to change the image that lay people have with regards to lawyers and diversity? A: I think one surefire way to change this image is for minority attorneys to be more active in the community, especially with regards to the less fortunate. A few ways to do this in our community is through volunteering for some of the great programs that are offered through the Lafayette Bar Association such as the LVL (Lafayette Volunteer Lawyers) Program, Counsel on Call or the H.E.L.P (Homeless Experience Legal Protection) Program. While I do understand that most minority attorneys are solo practitioners and may not have as much disposable time, it is important to volunteer. I have personally volunteered for all three programs and trust me, the clients are appreciative, they will not forget how you helped them and they will think of you the next time they have a legal issue. Q: How has your race impacted the way you practice law? A: I would like to think that the accolades that I have achieved during my legal career, SBA President, Moot Court board, The Journal of Race Gender and Poverty, passing all 9 parts of the Bar on the first time, along with the litany of awards I have received, have little to do with the color of my skin and the need to overcome certain negative stereotypes but more to do with my drive and determination. However, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that how others perceive me, because of the color of my skin, does impact the way I practice law. For a minority, a good reputation is not acknowledged as quickly as my counterparts and that is why I work harder. Q: What efforts have you made, or been involved with to foster diversity, competence and understanding? A: I have helped diversify the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association (LYLA), efforts that I began prior to my presidency. I have done so by reaching out to young lawyers who may fly under the radar, especially those not in a traditional firm setting. I made it my mission to get people involved in order to foster diversity, competence and understanding. I informed a lot of young lawyers, especially African American lawyers, about the board. Q: How do you challenge stereotypes with regards to diversity? A: As I previously stated, there is a certain negative stereotype that is associated with minorities. As a minority in this profession, I strive every single day to debunk the negative stereotypes and stigmas. As the first African American President of the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association, I think this is a true testament of how far we have come in the legal profession with regards to diversity.
Conversely, it is also a testament as to how far we need to go and the strides we need to make. Q: Do you think that female lawyers have to prove themselves more in the profession than their male counterparts? Why or why not? A: I definitely think that female lawyers are constantly fighting an uphill battle in the way of proving themselves. The legal profession is thought of as an aggressive, adversarial and male-dominated profession. Traditionally, females are categorized as the exact opposites. Aggressiveness and assertiveness in female attorneys are seen as negative characteristics when the same characteristics are not questioned in our male counterparts. On a positive note, I feel that because we have had to prove ourselves more than our male counterparts, it has made us stronger and more relentless attorneys. We are making huge strides in the legal profession and it makes me proud to be a female attorney. Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add or that you want us to know about you? A: What I have come to understand about diversity is that for any beneficial progress to be made, diversity must be a central tenet. How or why it is necessary has already been proven. Countless studies have shown the effectiveness of diversity on the ideas, convictions and success of a myriad of professions. As lawyers, it is imperative that we recognize the importance of diversity, not only for our profession, but for the benefits it would bring to the communities, people and government we serve. I am thankful to be a member of one of the most noble professions in the world. Mr. Robert Vincent is a solo practitioner at the Law Office of Robert B. Vincent, LLC. His civil practice primarily includes Wills, Successions, Donations and other transactional items. He attended Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and was admitted in Louisiana in 2010. Mr. Vincent has always had an interest in my community and its people. He believes that as an attorney, he is given a unique opportunity to help people that are most in need. Q: What is diversity to you? A: Diversity to me encompasses tolerance and respect towards all people, no matter their color, creed, age, gender, disability, or nationality. Q: Why do you think diversity is important in the legal profession? A: I feel that diversity is important in every profession, not just the legal profession. Each person, no matter their color, creed, age, gender, disability, or national origin, has something to offer this world. Diversity in the legal profession is important because each attorney can bring to the table an idea or viewpoint that another person has not considered. All of our unique experiences and challenges form our character and affect the way we look at life and the way we view our clients.
Q: What do you think we can do as attorneys to help and/or what role can we play in diversifying the legal profession even more? A: In order to help other attorneys or to help diversify the legal profession, I feel that we need to be more open-minded to the unique challenges of our fellow attorneys. If we see someone in need, extend a helping hand, listen, and perhaps point him or her in the right direction. Essentially, we need to be more kind and compassionate to our fellow man. Q: When lay people think of a lawyer, what do you think they picture and why is that? A: When lay people think of a lawyer, they perceive our profession as an aloof, older, White, affluent male. They envision offices staffed with secretaries, walls lined with books, leather sofas and huge mahogany desks. Most of our clients come to us with apprehension or fear. They are facing personal or business problems in life. They have come to bare their souls to a complete stranger who they feel doesnâ€™t have a clue of the problems in the world. Q: What can we do as lawyers to change the image that lay people have with regards to lawyers and diversity? A: To change the image that lay people have with regards to lawyers and diversity has to begin within our own profession. Acceptance of who we are, no matter how different, will allow our clients to accept us. It is also important for an attorney to be active in the community, church or other organizations. In this way, they view us as a community member no different than themselves working for the common good. We can change the image of the unreachable attorney to one that generously gives of his or her time and talent to the community. Q: What is your experience in dealing with clients and being physically disabled? A: I have been blessed with clients that are very patient and understanding of my disability. They come to me because they trust that I will provide competent legal services, despite the fact that I am in a wheelchair. My disability has always been a part of my practice. When meeting with my first client, I fell when trying to get up and he had to help me off of the floor. I am proud to say that he is still a client and the fact that I am disabled never deterred him from using me as an attorney. Q: How has being physically disabled impacted the way you practice law and/or your outlook on the legal profession? A: I started off my practice in a small office in the Town of Erath. As my disability progressed, I closed my office and began practicing at home. I actually saw a difference in the way my clients related to me. Being at home put my clients at ease quicker. I discovered that legal work is more palatable with a cup of coffee around the kitchen table. Q: What role, if any, does your physical disability play in the way you practice law? A: My physical disability has helped me be more
compassionate to my fellow man as well as my clients. I do the best possible job I can do every day. Q: Does your physical disability affect your decision to take on certain cases? A: Yes, I made the decision from the time I began practicing law not to take any cases that would require me to go to court. This limited the type of cases I would handle, but was necessary due to my energy level and mobility issues. Q: What advice do you have for other individuals with a disability that are either in law school or thinking of going to law school? A: I feel the legal profession is a wonderful opportunity for a physically challenged person wishing to go to law school. Practicing law provides me the opportunity to help other people. It also allows me the freedom to set my own hours or agenda while doing something I love. Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add or that you want us to know about you? A: I consider it a great honor to be a member of such a noble profession. I am in hospice care now but I am still practicing law at my kitchen table. If I knew that the good Lord would come for me tomorrow, I would hurry up and finish a client’s Will for him today. Then I could meet my Maker knowing I have done something good in the world. Mrs. Vandana Chaturvedi is from Delhi, India (one of the biggest cosmopolitan cities in the world). She came to the U.S. as a student to pursue a Master’s in communication from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. She graduated from Delhi University Law Faculty in Delhi, India and was admitted in Louisiana in 2000. She met her husband on a visit to Canada. After her husband was offered and accepted a position in Lafayette, they moved with their two children. Prior to establishing her own law firm, she practiced Family Law at Acadiana Legal Services from 2001 – 2004. She is currently a solo practitioner at the Law Office of Vandana Chaturvedi, LLC where she practices Immigration Law. She became an immigration attorney due to her own journey as an immigrant. After completing a lot of her own legal immigration paperwork, she decided to help others in their journey to become naturalized. Q: What is diversity to you? A: Diversity to me means representation. Representation of different cultures, races, ages, genders and so much more. Q: Why do you think diversity is important in the legal profession? A: Diversity is important in the legal profession for the simple reason that our clientele is so diverse. I have clients who turn to me solely because I speak their language, or can relate to a common culture! Q: What do you think we can do as attorneys to help and/or what role can we play in diversifying the legal profession even more? A: As attorneys it is very important that we keep evolving to accommodate an ever growing diverse clientele. There is so much more that we know about the world and its people now, and there
is so much room for personal growth for attorneys that makes good business sense in our global village environment. Be it by learning a new language, taking a course in world religions, it is not just good economic sense but so much fun! As attorneys, we are blessed to be able to help so many different types of people. Q: When lay people think of a lawyer, what do you think they picture and why is that? A: Speaking for myself, most of my clients come from countries all over the world. They are often intimidated by barriers of language, laws, culture, and so on in the United States. It is very important for me to get them to view me as a person on their side, someone they can approach and trust and not be intimidated by. Q: What can we do as lawyers to change the image that lay people have with regards to lawyers and diversity? A: That’s a great CLE right there to brainstorm how lawyers can be perceived more humanely and more approachable by diverse clienteles. Q: How has your religion impacted the way you practice law and/ or your outlook on the legal profession? A: My religion is more a philosophy of life than a dogma. One of the concepts of Hindu faith is Karma or right action (reap what you sow concept). It is very important to me to treat others as I would like to be treated. As attorneys, we are not always representing others. Sometimes we need representation too. Q: Does your religion impact your decision to take on certain cases? A: In taking certain cases, I try to be true to myself and my philosophy (religion) in that, can I do the research and learn this aspect of law? How can I be best qualified to take on this matter? Do I have the time and the resources? If not, should I refer it out? Q: Do you think that female lawyers have to prove themselves more in the profession than their male counterparts? Why or why not? A: I think female lawyers, like other female professionals are kicking butt in legal and every other profession. I think the generations that automatically thought men were better at anything are dying out. Women lawyers are seen as more approachable, more balanced and overall more capable or qualified to be retained/hired. I would like to add though (it may just be me) that women are less aggressive about fees than men are. I think it is part of our subconscious that we try to be fair about fees whereas men treat it just as business. Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add or that you want us to know about you? A: I practice yoga. Attorneys have a very stressful life, often contentious and full of negativity. I think it is very important for attorneys to practice some form of meditation, be it religion-based or simply spiritual. In my opinion, such a practice brings clarity of thought and vision that can ultimately reward our own practice as well as outcomes for our clients.
Lafayette Young Lawyers Association
Dwazendra Smith, President The year is going as planned and we are extremely excited about it. In February, we participated in Career Connections and hosted the annual High School Mock Trial Competition at the Federal Courthouse downtown. In May, Wills for Heroes, Law Week events and our annual Birdie with the Bar Golf Tournament will take place. On February 17, 2016, we participated, for the first time, in Career Connections. The mission of Career Connections is to raise the standard of living and quality of life for the citizens of Lafayette, Iberia, St. Martin and Vermilion Parishes by providing life skills and career awareness opportunities to tenth grade students, while benefitting business and industry by creating our future workforce. Career Connections provides tenth grade students an opportunity to invest in their futures. Students were afforded the opportunity to explore a variety of career options and meet people who performed these jobs on a daily basis. In turn, various organizations and businesses had an opportunity to share their careers and expertise with our future leaders. Special thanks to our volunteers Cyd Cherrie-Anderson, Claire Prejean, Jami Lacour, Carolyn Cole, Philip DeBaillon and Stuart Breaux who manned our booth. LYLA was excited to be a part of Career Connections and we plan on continuing to participate in the future.
On February 27, 2016, the annual High School Mock Trial Competition was held at the Federal Courthouse downtown. This year, we had ten teams, three teams from Early College Academy, three teams from Northside High School Academy of Legal Studies, two teams from Carencro High School, one team from Ascension Sugar Mill Pond and one team from Lake Charles Boston Academy of Learning. As usual, the students did not disappoint and they awed us with their presentations of the problem. Northside High School and Early College Academy progressed to the final round and Northside prevailed as the winner of this yearâ€™s High School Mock Trial Competition. On behalf of LYLA, I would like to thank everyone who gave their time on a Saturday to make the High School Mock Trial Competition a success. We would like to especially thank our
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Mock Trial Committee, Derek Aswell, Dan Phillips and Robert Moore, for without your hard work and commitment, this event would not have been successful. Also, special thanks to Judge Carol Whitehurst, Judge Marilyn Castle, Judge Charles Fitzgerald, Hearing Officer Vanessa Randall, Judge Ellis Daigle, Judge Robert Summerhayes, Judge Jason Meche, Judge Patrick Hanna, Judge James Genovese, all of our scoring judges and timekeepers, UL’s PreLaw Club, our LBA staff, Josette Abshire, Cyd Cherrie-Anderson, Claire Prejean, Dani Richey, Brian Bourgeois and Nick Midboe, all team coaches, parents, the students for their commitment and hard work and everyone at the Federal Courthouse, especially the CSOs.
courts and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty. Our Law Week Committee is diligently working on events to commemorate this. As we get closer to Law Week, more information will be provided on LYLA’s contribution to Law Week this year.
Our Spring Social is scheduled for April 20, 2016 and will be a joint social with the St. Landry Parish Young Lawyers Section and the Acadia Parish Bar Association. The location and time are still being determined. Be on the lookout for an e-mail detailing the time and place it will be held. You won’t want to miss the chance to socialize with young lawyers from Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish and Acadia Parish.
Wills for Heroes program will be held soon at the LBA. The date and time are still being determined and will be announced when finalized.
Our Birdie with the Bar Golf Tournament is scheduled for May 20, 2016 and will be held at The Wetlands at 1:00 p.m. Registration will be open soon so please mark your calendars and gather your teams! For more information, please contact Jason Matt, Philip Boudreaux, Tad Hightower, myself or the LBA staff.
On behalf of LYLA, I would like personally thank everyone for their continued support, and we look forward to seeing everyone at our events in the upcoming months.
This year, the Law Week theme is Miranda: More than Words. This year marks the 50th anniversary of perhaps the nation’s best known U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The focus will be on the procedural protections afforded to all of us by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the
Off the Beaten Path
An interview with: Michelle Kallam Place of Birth: I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Family (spouse and children): I’m married to Robert Kallam. I met my husband in undergrad. He finished law school in the Spring and I started the next fall. We married after my Freshman year. We have four children, three boys and a girl. Education (high school, college, law school): I graduated from St. Joseph’s Academy and LSU with a degree in history and a minor in English. I attended law school at LSU. What was your inspiration to go to law school? I was majoring in Education but became discouraged after working at a school in Baton Rouge. The teacher I was working with was very unhappy with teaching and influenced me to find another profession. I graduated and took a job as a paralegal in a law firm and decided to go to law school. I love school and learning and really enjoyed law school.
The Promulgator Editorial Committee has been told that you are an oil and gas attorney Monday, Wednesday and Friday and a preschool teacher on Tuesday and Thursday. How did that come to be? I teach at St. Mary’s two mornings a week. I was inspired to start teaching when a teacher at cathedral Carmel School died at an early age. She was such an incredible teacher. I have always had a desire to teach and her death inspired me to do something about it. I adore teaching and St. Mary’s Early Learning Center. My goal is to instill a love for school and learning in my two year old students. What has teaching two year olds taught you that transfers over to your life as a lawyer? Patience and persistence are qualities needed to teach two year olds and for oil and gas title work. If you or another attorney you know has an interesting hobby or practice outside of law, please contact the editorial committee or Brian at the Lafayette Bar Association by phone or email at (337) 237-4700 or firstname.lastname@example.org
What type of law do you practice? I started doing contract work after all the kids started school. And am now doing oil and gas title work and commercial transactional work with Dupuis and Polozola. Tell us about your professional journey. After graduation from law school I clerked for Judge John Parker in the Middle District for two years. After that I worked at Laborde and Neuner until we started having children. After our oldest was born I clerked for Judge Don Aaron in the Third Circuit. After our second child was born I retired from the law for a while and had two more children. The best thing about being a lawyer is? I am so very thankful for my education and particularly my law degree. There were years when I was at home caring for my children when I wondered whether my law degree would ever be put to use. But you never know where your life journey will take you. I am so thankful for my degree because I like the work that I do. It is interesting and enables me to work with great people. It also gives me flexibility. I am able to use my degree practicing law and I am able to teach precious two year olds two mornings a week.
Family Law Section
GREG KOURY, PRESIDENT The “big” holiday season is over, football season is through, and 2016 is in full swing. As on old law partner of mine would always say to begin the New Year, “it’s time to hit the ground running.” Well, the Family Law Section has done just that. By press time for this issue, FLS has already enjoyed 2 successful meetings and informative CLEs on January 11th, Protective Orders and Recent Developments in Family Law, presented by 16th JDC Hearing Officer Maggie Simar and February 1, 2016 with a CLE entitled Immigration and Family Law, presented by Vanadana Chaturvedi. And before you read this, our third meeting will have also occurred on March 14th, with a CLE about Collection, Handling and Examination of Digital Evidence-What Lawyers Should Know – presented by Anna Theriot. So we are off. Fear not, though, my friends, it is not too late to join. We still have 6 more opportunities in 2016 to enjoy CLEs and fellowship that further the FLS Mission Statement, which is: To encourage and foster discussions and studies and to disseminate information relative to (1) statutes, jurisprudence and continuing education with regard to current development relating to family law; (2) to improve the legal system in general with a particular emphasis on increasing the legal system’s sensitivity to the special needs of
families and children; and to (3) foster civility, professionalism and competency among members. On a personal note, I practiced family law in Lafayette for 10 years before becoming involved in the Family Law Section. While I learned much on my own, my development as a practitioner would clearly have benefitted by participation with our diverse yet likeminded group of members. Our remaining schedule for 2016 is listed below. All section meetings, executive committee meetings and CLE programs will be held at the LBA building at 2607 Johnston St., Lafayette, Louisiana. The section meetings begin at 11:30 a.m. with lunch and a brief discussion of FLS business, and the CLE will follow at noon. Executive Committee Meetings will begin at 5:15 pm, and all members are welcome to attend. We hope that you will join us going forward.
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Monday, April 4, 2016: Executive Meeting Monday, April 11, 2016: Business Meeting and CLE- Military Divorce â€“ Presented by: Steven Ramos Monday, May 2, 2016: Executive Committee Meeting Monday, May 9, 2016: Business Meeting and CLE-To be determined August 1, 2016: Monday, Executive Meeting Monday, August 8, 2016: Business Meeting and CLE-To be determined Tuesday, September 6, 2016: Executive Meeting Monday, September 12, 2016: Business Meeting and CLE-To be determined Monday, October 3, 2016: Executive Meeting Monday, October 10, 2016: Business Meeting and CLE-To be determined Monday, November 7, 2016: Executive Meeting Monday, November 14, 2016: Business Meeting and CLE-To be determined We will have other events including socials and Christmas parties to be announced.
Louisiana Public Defenders The following are excerpts from testimonies about the state of the Louisiana Public Defender Board. To read the full versions, please visit the LBA website. www.lafayettebar.org On January 12, 2016, at the direction of the Louisiana Public Defender Board (“the Board”), formal notice was given to the 15th Judicial District criminal justice system of the belief that in order “to ensure competent legal representation, the office [of the 15th Public Defender] will establish a waitlist protocol that prioritized clients based on the seriousness of the offenses. To reduce expenditures the Public Defenders Office will eliminate nine attorney positions.” The reported reason was “...due to our reliance on an unstable funding stream which is heavily dependent on the assessment, collection, and dispersal of fines associated with traffic tickets and court costs for survival, the Judicial District Office faces a funding shortfall and must reduce expenditures.” Pending cases will be postponed. New cases will be delayed indefinitely. The right of these defendants to a speedy trial will be violated. Time limits will pass. Cases will be dismissed. A strike has been called. The rights of many, including those charged with crime and those of society to order and public safety have been taken hostage, all with the effect of bringing the criminal justice system to its knees ostensibly for more money or else. This is not a noble exercise. It is tragic and will become a tragedy of enormous consequence. I, as most who work in the criminal justice system, support the defendant’s right to adequate and sufficient representation. It is not only the constitutional law of the land. It is absolutely critical to the proper administration of criminal justice. I strongly believe that without a proper defense, the work of bringing wrongful conduct to a just resolution will not result in justice. This is as important to those who are truly indigent as to those who can afford a defense. It is clearly the responsibility of the State, the government, the people, all of society collectively. The ultimate question, as it always comes down to, is how much does this equate to in dollars and cents. A question may be regarding decisions in the administration of the massive appropriations given by the State to the Louisiana Public Defender Fund to adequately fund public defense. The question may be whether the administration of these State appropriations were always in the best interest of the massive number of indigent defendants who were in most need of legal representation. The Board estimates the number of indigent cases in need of legal representation in Louisiana to be more than 240,000 each year. All of the local funds generated in the local public defender districts, through costs, fees, and forfeitures, go to that representation. However, only about one half of the massive appropriations given to the Board go to the local public defenders to assist in that representation. The other half goes to administrative costs of the Board, and special programs nearly all of which are encumbered
for capital (or death penalty) cases. The Board has reported the total number of capital cases in 2015 (to which approximately onehalf of the state appropriation is paid) was 83. The real crisis in public defender funding is not necessarily the amount of the funding received from the state but perhaps the allocation and administration of the funds entrusted to the Board. How do we in the criminal justice system fix the “crisis”? Is there a fix short of doubling or tripling the appropriations made by the State and government to public defense? More oversight? More accountability? Less arrests and prosecutions? More use of alternatives to arrest and prosecution, like pretrial intervention? A moratorium on handling of capital cases? A referendum to the voters as to whether capital punishment is economically feasible? -- Keith A. Stutes, District Attorney 15th Judicial District Parishes of Acadia, Lafayette, and Vermilion Old hands in the practice of law recall that when the Right To Counsel was extended to the states by the Gideon decision criminal practice was an outlier, not a favored career choice. There was no money in it. Look into a little history and you find tentacles all the way back to Appomattox and the end of slavery. Post civil war use of criminal law as an extension of civil segregation and oppression is undeniably recorded in “Black Codes” and laws that rejected evidence and testimony based on race. While much of that is off the books, not all has been erased. In serious jury trials, a 10 vote, non-unanimous verdict in Louisiana was enacted to make certain newly accepted black citizens could not prevent convictions by preventing a unanimous vote. There’s an excellent, explicit history of that being the purpose. Louisiana alone has that rule for serious cases including Life Sentences. Given the cultural artifacts of our history, it comes as no surprise that in this 21st Century we are just beginning to see the Public Defender as a Profession. The 1974 Louisiana Constitution tried it, but that system was set up without the independence lawyers need. Public Defenders were often focused on pleasing the judges who controlled local boards. That made it difficult to criticize rulings. Years ago a district judge whose sentence on a client of mine was reversed told me at the resentencing “I guess you know I don’t appreciate you challenging my ruling!” Of course I’ve known exceptional judges like J Rixie Mouton, who always welcomed review as a teaching moment. But the point is we still often find a default to a different mindset for clients with appointed counsel, and subtly treat people differently in court based on prejudice based on the thought “oh, (he) needed an appointed lawyer”. As a cultural influence it often is no longer race based, like a judge who would order defendants to have gold teeth extracted as a condition of probation. We’ve heard views like, “if she was innocent she would hire a lawyer”, and so in Louisiana the context of the Right To Counsel has created cultural resistance we don’t always consciously get. I’m a great illustration: immersed in the Right To
Counsel for a career, teaching college level classes on it, and doing the work yet I still find cognitive gaps. Some of them so plainly obvious I’m embarrassed to admit it. Recently a man was brought to booking in Lafayette straight from his hospital bed on a misdemeanor for which his sentence likely wouldn’t even be jail! He was sent back. And of course the hot dog ladies in New Iberia, recently accused of eating a hot dog and drinking a soft drink, then driving from Dallas to City Court for trial on a summons. When they asserted they were innocent and asked for trial, it was set in May. They were hauled off to Jail when the City Prosecutor asked for cash bail, and without prior notice they couldn’t come up with it, clearly an incentive not to insist on trial in May. They got out early only because a local attorney and a minister friend came up with the money! The prosecutor said “nothing unusual about this.” They would have done months is the Iberia Parish jail, first offenders with no record, who wanted their day in court! Jail, only because they didn’t have cash! There’s also the Felony version. Take Seth Fontenot, shooting case in Lafayette, First Degree Murder arrest, and hundreds of thousands needed to bond out. Somebody helped him too. He was released and free for many months without incident, but there was no public safety issue: the only reason he might have stayed: m-on-e-y!!! So in either case the bail was not about public safety, it was whether a person had cash! Even in the most serious cases, the determining fact is m-o-n-e-y. How did we get here? I say because somebody wanted certain people locked up immediately and held, people who were “poor.” The dominant culture knew who could pay, and just like the poll tax, who couldn’t. So when people during this crisis in which the Public Defender Profession is fighting to say people need real lawyers, and can’t just take casework “to infinity and beyond,” we are standing for change in our culture in many ways. That’s why it’s wrong for some to say “come take public defender cases, no experience necessary” or to suggest that different ethics apply to public defender cases. It’s also why people need to start thinking beyond our cultural assumptions and habits and looking for knowledge and information about Criminal Justice. -- G Paul Marx, District Public Defender LSU Law, Class of 1980 The funding of the Public Defender System is not solely a matter of money but also a question of the wise use of limited resources. Everyone agrees that the Public Defenders should be adequately paid for the important work they do. Their job is critical to the functioning of a trustworthy criminal justice system. Louisiana has a history of local public defenders which were funded using revenue raised locally. There was also a state created Louisiana Indigent Defender Assistance Board (LIDAB) which provided assistance to the local public defender when needed but did not have financial control or supervision over the local public defender. The LPDB also determines which lawyers are certified to represent
defendants in capital cases and the hourly rates these attorneys are paid. The LPDB has decertified criminal defense attorneys with decades of criminal trial and capital case experience. By doing so the LPDB has drastically limited the number of attorneys certified to represent indigents in capital cases. Most of those certified are not local public defenders. The logical result is a shortage of attorneys available to represent indigent defendants in capital cases, thus leaving the case in legal limbo. LPBD then maintains there is a shortage of qualified capital defense attorneys and the indigent defendant’s rights to a speedy trial, counsel and due process are being violated. The solution more money. The method of determining professional standards for the number of indigent cases a public defender can handle is also an issue which is glossed over. The LPDB relies on cases level standards from a 1973 American Bar Association report/study. Does a defendant who fails to appear in court and has a bench warrant outstanding for an extended period of time count as a pending case for professional standards? Obviously, a homicide with multiple defendants, DNA evidence, firearm identification evidence and digital evidence is going to require more time, skill, and energy to review, investigate and prepare for trial than a simple possession of a controlled dangerous substance, but the LPDB considers them similar for calculating the number of cases an attorney can handle professionally. Furthermore, the LPDB doesn’t raise the issue of professional standards when courts are forced to appoint local attorneys who do not practice criminal law to represent indigent defendants when the public defender unilaterally enters into a “restriction of services.” The recent “restriction of services” and “wait list” are a creation of the LPDB. Curiously, these steps come at the same time as the Legislature tries to close an estimated $750-$900 million dollar budget deficit for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Unsurprisingly, the ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit challenging these steps. Most certainly, this is aimed at prompting a federal court mandate to the State Legislature to provide more funding, probably at the expense of higher education and healthcare, to the LPDB to use as it sees fit. Having worked as a public defender and currently as an assistant district attorney I know the Public Defender System must be adequately funded to guarantee the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel and to maintain the public trust. The rights of defendants and victims as well as the integrity of the criminal justice system are at stake. However, the current “crisis” is a result of LPDB priorities and policies which misuse limited resources in an effort to attract more funding at the expense of the people whose rights should be defended. -- Robert L Odinet, Asst. District Attorney 16th JDC Pres. ADA Section of the LDAA
The Bar Side Greg K. Moroux This column is submitted, not as humor, but to confess that I enjoyed the Bench/Bar Conference last year. Really. I enjoyed it so much, I now serve on the planning committee. I was on the board of directors when the idea of a Bench/Bar conference outside Lafayette was promoted for the first time many years ago. This column is not going to go into the reservations I had about the idea then. I am informed that the Bench/Bar has been around for over 20 years. (I couldn’t remember.) Leaving alone for a minute that I had to go get that information from the bar association staff, and then calling Josette Abshire back to ask if the number she gave me is correct (“Seems kinda high, huh?”). It’s taken me this many years to sign up…and go. I attended the Bench/Bar Conference for the first time this year, which took place in New Orleans on October 1 and 2, 2015. I must say I was impressed, and all my reservations about the idea evaporated. For starters, the judges want to be there. That much is clear. Secondly, my wife made fast friends with Ginger, Judge Keith Comeaux’s wife. They spent the entire day together while the judge and I were in session back at the hotel. Lynn is hoping they are there next year. Judge Comeaux sits in the 16th Judicial District, and drives to Lafayette from New Iberia for planning meetings and contributes much to the group.
The highlights of last year’s presentations began with an ethics hour, then DA Keith Stutes in a session “Criminal Law for Everyone,” a panel discussion among the new judges on the bench, including one from St. Landry Paris Jason Meche, and those of the 15th JDC, Judge Michelle Breaux, Charles Fitzgerald, Laurie Hulin, and David Smith. The new judges were interesting talking about the transition from practice to the bench. The one day session ended with what is called a “Round Robin” where judges sit at round tables and the members circulate among the tables on cue to discuss issues with the bench and bar. That part was enlightening, even for a lawyer who has practiced a while. The judges helped us understand how we can help them make decisions. The evening ended with a dinner among the attendees. A surprise bonus for me was running into my nephew (Jerome Moroux) at the hotel bar, where we got to catch up in a very nice setting. Okay, I admit it: I enjoyed the whole thing, despite my reservations over 20 years ago.
Judge David Blanchet is also on the committee. I was similarly impressed with his contributions to the planning and improvement of the conference for next year. The rest of the members of the committee bring to the group very good ideas about making the conference a better one for all, and to attract more members. The event kicks off with a cocktail party. As cocktail parties go, it was fun. It was also walking distance from the hotel, a very nice touch not to get the car.
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High School Mock Trial Competition On February 27, ten teams from five different schools in the Lafayette and Lake Charles areas competed in the Region II Mock Trial Competition. The schools in the competition included Ascension Episcopal School, Carencro High School, Lake Charles Boston Academy, and the two finalist teams who advanced to the state competition were from Northside High School and the Early College Academy. Participants were judged both as teams and as individuals in the competition, with individual awards including “Best Attorney” and “Best Witness” awarded to Tyler Malbreaux and Bre Lewis.
Law school is partly designed to humiliate you. Respect is important; the initiate learns to kneel before the Law. While the third degree has its place, too often this reverence instilled in the 1L finds itself distorted into the dread of remoteness in the first several years of practice. The senior partner’s door may always be open, but when you cross the threshold you better not waste her time. The judge enters the courtroom long after you arrive. You stand. You speak. You sit.
The two final teams from Northside High and Early College Academy with their presiding judge, Judge Jimmy Genovese
I like Bench Bar because it’s restorative; it reminds me of why I became a lawyer in the first place. To enjoy the company of others. To talk about how we do what do with people who do what we do in their own different way. I like how Bench Bar starts on a Thursday afternoon. And how on that morning you’re here in your office, wrapping things up, and then in the afternoon, you walk into some bar in the French Quarter and find all of these Lafayette folks— judges from the district courts and court of appeal, senior partners, legends, young bucks—sipping sazeracs in groups, laughing.
Tyler Malbreaux: Best Attorney Award
I hate the word ‘networking,’ and praise be the Bench Bar for never making you feel like that’s what you’re doing. The time spent there never feels like you’re padding your LinkedIn account. There is meaning and sincerity in the faces you meet: a conversation at the Judge’s round table is a follow-up from the conversation you had in the piano bar or a segue to the one you will have at Antoine’s. You’ll see these people again when you come back home. They’ll be happy you came. Bre Lewis: Best Witness Award
Pecoraro Law is pleased to announce that Anna M. Grand has joined the firm as an associate. The LBA Young Lawyers won the YLD Service to the Public Award for their annual Holiday Giving Award, and Dwazendra Smith won the YLD Pro Bono Award. The awards will be given at the Summer School CLE in Destin on June 8th. Michael D. Carleton has joined the law firm of Chaffe McCall, LLP as a Partner for the Real Estate and Business and Transactions sections in the firmâ€™s Lake Charles office. The LBA would like to thank Judge Michot, Barry Sallinger, Paul Marx, Kevin Stockstill and Thomas Guilbeau for their help with putting on the Criminal Law CLE on such short notice.
Law Office For Sale or Lease Fully modernized downtown historic building located at 120 Caillouet Place, Lafayette. Move in ready 2,700 sq. ft. two story, 3.5 blocks from the courthouse. Has commercial fire alarm system, handicap ramp, metal roof and top grade siding. Downstairs has two large offices, with outer offices large enough for two support staff each. Waiting room/foyer, conference room, 1.5 bathrooms, kitchen, copy room, utility & back patio. Upstairs is suitable for either a three room apartment with full bathroom and kitchenette and/or additional offices. Quiet, safe neighborhood with easy access from Johnston St., Jefferson St. and University Ave. Great for a satellite office or small firm. Call 337.288.3691 to inquire.
Davidson, Meaux, Sonnier, McElligott, Gideon & Edwards would like to announce that Hallie Coreil has joined the firm as an associate. Doran & Cawthorne, PLLC would like to announce that Dwazendra Smith has joined the firm as an associate.
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