COURT COLUMN

A Newsletter of the Judiciary of the State of Louisiana

Volume I, No. I, Spring 1998

Royal Street Courthouse Renovation Begins

On March 2nd, surrounded by the justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court and the judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr. handed the key to the Royal Street Courthouse to the First Lady of Louisiana, Alice Foster, marking the start of a $7.2 million renovation and restoration phase of the historic courthouse building.

Over 400 guests and French Quarter spectators were in attendance to witness the momentous occasion that featured Supreme Court Justice Jeannette Knoll singing the National Anthem, the U.S. Marine Corps Band, John Ehret High School ROTC, Boy and Girl Scouts, confetti cannons and 500 red, white and blue balloons.

"Returning this awe-inspiring building to a home for the state's highest court demonstrates to citizens and visitors alike that we, the people of Louisiana, value our system of justice and our rich architectural history. This renovation will restore dignity and beauty to the courthouse as it was in the first half of the century," announced Chief Justice Calogero.

The project was also heralded by officials and dignitaries representing civic, legal and business interests, including: Mayor Marc H. Morial, City of New Orleans; Judge Robert J. Klees, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal; Judge Eldon E. Fallon, Chairman of the Louisiana Supreme Court Historical Society; David Bienvenu, President of the Louisiana State Bar Association; Patricia H. Gay, Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center; Sam A. LeBlanc, III, Chairman of the Chamber/New Orleans & the River Region; and Roger H. Ogden, Chairman of the Royal Street Advisory Board who served as master of ceremonies.

The Beaux Arts building was built in 1909 for the Supreme Court and the New Orleans Civil District Court. The building is now being readied for multi-purpose use to eventually house the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, the State Judicial Administrator, the Law Library of Louisiana, an Attorney General's Office and a satellite branch of the Louisiana State Museum.

The current phase of the renovation project was awarded to Gootee Construction, Inc. It is anticipated that this phase of the Royal Street Courthouse restoration will be completed in January of 1999, and that completion of the final phase of construction and occupancy will occur by the end of the year 2000.


COLLINS CORNER

It is my pleasure to welcome you to Court Column, the new quarterly newsletter for the Louisiana judiciary.

Court Column will highlight the work of Louisiana courts in the areas of community outreach, judicial reform, and innovations in court management and case processing. The information for Court Column comes from state court judges, clerks of court and court administrators who submit their outreach initiatives and innovations for publication. Their input is essential in keeping Court Column readers up-to-date with improvements in the state judiciary.

Each issue of Court Column will also include "Focus On", featuring how Louisiana courts are partnering with the community to address societal problems, such as juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child neglect and abuse. This issue will "Focus On: Community Partnerships to Prevent Juvenile Crime."

I look forward to speaking to you from the Collins Corner in future issues in order to better acquaint you with the services of the Judicial Administrator's Office.

So again, welcome to Court Column. If you are one who believes that no news is good news, I hope Court Column changes your mind.


New Judges' Training

In the Fall of 1996, 68 new district court judges were elected to serve as members of the bench. With their addition, 70 percent of Louisiana district judges have six or fewer years of trial court experience. Faced with this unprecedented shift in the make-up of the judiciary, the Louisiana Judicial College conducted a mandatory four-day judicial education program to ready the new judges for the professional challenges that lie ahead.

The cornerstone of the new judges' training is the Judicial Mentoring Project a collaboration of the Louisiana Judicial College and the Louisiana District Judges Association. "By pairing new judges with experienced judges, the Judicial Mentoring Project is designed to transcend the mere 'how to's' of courtroom procedure by creating a statewide judicial network for sharing ideas and providing emotional support," said Judge W. Ross Foote (9th JDC), Chairman of the Judicial Mentoring Committee of the District Judges Association.

The mentor judges participate in the mentoring program on a voluntary basis. They agree to receive specialized mentoring skills training and to be available at any time to answer calls from the new judge. The mentor and the new judge also agree to visit each other's court while in session and to regularly complete follow-up reports which track the development of the relationship.

The common sentiment shared by the freshman judges and their mentors is that the Judicial Mentoring Program is a big success. As a result it is being held up as the model for the nation by Maureen Conner, president of a Michigan company that specializes in mentoring programs.


INNOVATIONS

Video Conferencing Reduces Costs

The City Court of Plaquemine recently joined the ranks of other Louisiana courts which use video conferencing to post bonds. The "Viewpoint Workfone" system allows the court to communicate with inmates via computer monitors and microphones located in the courthouse and the jail.

The system, which generates a written bond and photo of the accused at the time of the bonding procedure, is a cooperative effort of the Plaquemine's Sheriff's Office and the City Court.

Sheriff Freddie Pitre praises the system for its effectiveness in saving manpower and transportation costs and reducing the security risk associated with transporting inmates to and from the courthouse.

According to Judge William C. Dupont, "This new procedure has proven to be very cost effective and has improved the efficiency of our 72 hour bonding procedure."

For more information about Viewpoint Workfone, call Judge William C. Dupont at (504) 687-7236.


Remote Access

The public can now access Orleans Parish Civil District Court's on-line records 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by subscribing to the court's CDC Remote Access Service. Records available include: case records from the Civil District Court and First City Court; records of mortgages, chattels, charters and partnerships; records of conveyances; and attorney bar rolls.

For more information, call CDC Data Processing at (504) 598-7969.


Criminal Docket Information Management System

The Criminal Docket Information Management System (CDIMS) is the all important first step in building an integrated system that meets the needs of all of the criminal justice agencies within the 24th Judicial District.

CDIMS was developed for the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court in cooperation with the judges of the 24th JDC, the Sheriff's Office, and the District Attorney to assist in processing the more than 8,000 criminal cases filed each year.

One of primary objectives of CDIMS is to capture information at its source and interface the data electronically to the other criminal justice agencies on a daily basis, replacing former inefficient manual methods.

A network of over sixty (60) PC's and twenty (20) printers installed in the administrative work areas and courtrooms provide information on a broad range of criminal justice activity including:

For more information, call CDIMS Steering Committee Chairman, Judge Charles Cusimano, II, at (504) 364-3929.





FOCUS ON: JUVENILE CRIME

Growing juvenile court dockets present a troubling preview of future criminal and social services caseloads in Louisiana courts. As a result, judges and court staff are becoming increasingly involved in innovative programs to bring troubled young people into mainstream society and give them alternatives to crime.

New Orleans-Resolving Conflicts Peacefully

120 students from 20 New Orleans public high schools participated in a week-long Conflict Resolution Teen Camp at Loyola University Law School. Sponsored by the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education, the teen camp objective was to empower young people to serve as crime prevention strategists in the community by resolving conflicts in their schools. The students chosen to participate in the Teen Camp included both student council members and at-risk students.

Following a welcome from Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., students received conflict resolution instruction from more than 30 New Orleans area district court and court of appeal judges. These included: Judge Patricia Murray, Judge Robert Klees, Judge Ronald Sholes, Judge Max Tobias, Jr., Judge Niles Hellmers, Judge Paul deMahy, Judge Michael Bagneris, Judge Terri Love, Judge Ernestine Gray, Judge Nancy Konrad, Judge Andrea Price Janzen, and Judge Paul Bonin.

In return for their camp experience, students agreed to design and implement a conflict resolution program in their respective high schools. At a follow-up training session, Justice Bernette Johnson swore in the students as card-carrying peer mediators.

When asked what aspect of the camp program was especially useful, one student enthusiastically responded, "The fact that we had real judges speak to us!"

For more information, call Maria Dooley of the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education at (504) 619-0129.


29th JDC Helps Students "ADAPT"

ADAPT (Alternative Discipline - A Positive Turnaround) is a mandatory alternative dispute program for St.Charles Parish 7th to 12th graders who have been suspended from school more than three times for disorderly behavior.

Designed to replace the current out-of-school suspension program, the program places students in a safe and disciplined learning environment, as opposed to their being unsupervised at home or on the streets during their suspensions.

After a student receives a third suspension, the District Attorney files a petition in the 29th Judicial District Court charging the child with being ungovernable. The district court judge subsequently meets with the student, "orders" the student to return to school and follow all rules, and advises the student that a fourth suspension will result in an expulsion and a contempt of court ruling punishable by 15 to 30 days in juvenile jail.

Judges Emile R. St. Pierre, Kirk R. Grenier and Robert A. Chaisson report that the ADAPT Program has been very successful in that no students placed in the program have been referred to them for a fourth suspension.

For more information, call Judge St. Pierre at (504) 783-3216 .


Hammond City Court "Vision in Prevention"

The City Court of Hammond, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office, Southeastern Louisiana University and the Tangipahoa School Board have formed an alliance to deter juvenile crime.

"Vision in Prevention" (V.I.P.) was conceptualized by City Court Judge Grace Bennett Gasaway and is directed by Hammond Clerk of Court/Court Administrator, Guy Recotta, Jr.

Sixth graders are targeted in the three-tiered program which includes six weeks of instruction on laws, rights and social responsibility; school-based counseling to enhance personal, social, educational and career development; and a strategic mentoring program for students in need of guidance.

"Some of the children are already at-risk," said Reginald Sanders, V.I.P. facilitator for the City Court of Hammond. "We want to give them an alternative to do the right thing. We want them to know there are choices out there."

For more information, call Guy Recotta, Jr. at (504) 542-3465.


Caddo Parish S.T.A.R. Program

A cooperative effort of the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court and the Caddo Parish School Board has led to the development of the parish's first school-based boot camp.

The Specialized Treatment and Rehabilitation Program (S.T.A.R.) targets middle school students, ages 11-15 years, who have been adjudicated by the Juvenile Court. On the recommendation of probation officers, the S.T.A.R. staff, and juvenile judges along with a demonstration of willingness to participate by parents, students enter the 7 days a week, 12 hours a day program.

The structured environment requires military style attire and hair cuts, remedial physical training, an academic program and study hall, discipline enhancing activities and weekend and holiday community service all per-formed under the supervision of drill sergeants.

"The early success of this military program proves there are... alternatives to locking up youngsters in trouble." The Times editorial, November 7, 1997.

For more information, call Mike Ramsey, S.T.A.R. Program Director, Caddo Parish Juvenile Court, at (318) 621-9198.


Houma City Court

The City Court of Houma is currently involved in numerous programs to decrease juvenile status and delinquent offenses. Two of these are the "Shoplifting Offender's Program" and the "Conflict Resolution Program".

Judge Jude T. Fanguy orders juvenile shoplifters into the court's "Shoplifting Offender's Program," where they must write a letter of apology to the store where the shoplifting occurred. Then, accompanied by parents and a court probation officer, they must personally present the letter to the store manager. "Persons who steal from merchants often think there is no victim. This program brings home that reality," says Judge Fanguy.

The City Court also has an ongoing agreement with the Terrebonne Parish School Board to provide "Conflict Resolution" classes for high school juniors and seniors who have been caught fighting at school. According to Judge Fanguy, "We get about 300 to 400 cases a year involving student fighting. It has been my experience that many people's value systems justify the use of force to solve disagreements. We must teach alternatives to this type of behavior."

For more information, call Doug Holloway, Coordinator for Juvenile and Community Services, at (504) 873-6338.


East Baton Rouge Juvenile Justice Community Task Force to Attack Truancy and Crime

East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson has organized a 21 member Juvenile Justice Community Task Force with a goal toward establishing Academy 2000, an alternative school for children who are presently involved with the juvenile court system, in foster care, or who have been expelled from the regular public school system.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) recently approved the alternative school which will teach students non-conventional subjects such as anger management. Judge Johnson said there is also a need to teach troubled children basic skills. "You have no idea how many kids I see every day who cannot read or write."

For more information call, Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson at (504) 354-1250.


COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS



Pillar of the Community: Baton Rouge City Court

Baton Rouge City Court, through its own Community Relations Division, has been at the forefront of court-community partnership programs in Louisiana. A sampling of some of the multitude of Baton Rouge City Court's community out- reach programs follows:



For more information, call Mickey Skyring at (504) 389-5279.


Judge Encourages Mock Trial Sponsorships

The Judges of the 16th Judicial District have always taken an active role in the regional and state High School Mock Trial Program sponsored by the Louisiana State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section. To create more opportunities for competition experience, Judge Paul deMahy created the Catholic High School Invitational Mock Trial Tournament and has encouraged other individuals and organizations to do the same.

As a result, local tournaments have been sponsored by Judge Cameron Simmons at Jeanerette City Court; the Kiwanis Club in St. Martinville; Eunice High School at the Eunice City Court; the Law Firm of Haik and Minvielle at the New Iberia City Court; the St. Mary Bar Association at the St. Mary Courthouse; and Judge Randy Angelle at the Breaux Bridge City Court.

For more information, call Judge Paul deMahy at (318) 394-2216.


Judge Authors DWI Article

Prompted by increasing statistics in DWI offenses, Judge Milton Moore, III of the 4th Judicial District Court recently authored an article for The Ouachita Citizen explaining the law and penalties associated with DWI convictions.

Judge Moore cautioned in the article that getting arrested and convicted for DWI has, in addition to potential imprisonment and fines, many other direct and indirect financial and social costs, such as towing costs, the cost to retain an attorney, court costs, and hardship upon the innocent spouse of a chronic DWI offender if the vehicle is ultimately seized and sold.

Judge Moore concludes, "We can only hope that the current negative opinion against drunk drivers and stigma resulting from a DWI conviction will cause more drinking drivers to re-evaluate their behavior and do the right thing when they get behind the wheel."


Riding the Circuits

Third Circuit Court of Appeal Chief Judge Ned E. Doucet, Jr., has initiated a Riding the Circuits Program to serve as an adjunct to the Supreme Court's Community Outreach Program.

To "ride the circuit" means the court of appeal judges hear oral arguments for cases at a location outside of the courthouse domicile in Calcasieu Parish. While oral arguments are generally held in the district courthouses on the circuit tour, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal has held arguments at Northwestern State University and at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, inviting the public and schools through community service announcements.

For more information, call Kenneth J. deBlanc, at (318) 433-9403.


Judicial Ride-Along

For the second consecutive year, Louisiana judges are coordinating a state-wide Judicial Ride-Along Program designed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to educate local legislators on the volume, complexity and variety of work performed by the courts in their districts and to improve interbranch communication and collaboration.

In its first year, 60 legislators spent a half-day "on the bench" as the guests of Louisiana judges. So successful was the program that the Louisiana legislature commended the judiciary on its initiative through passage of a concurrent resolution.

Rep. Roy Quezaire of Donaldsonville said of the program, "I had only just stuck my head into the courtroom before. You sit there and draft laws, but to see it interpreted in open court is a different angle." Judge Mary Hotard Becnel of the 40th JDC had similar feelings, "Everybody is going to benefit from this program in the long run."

For more information, call the Supreme Court Community Relations Department at (504) 599-0319.


Chamber to Chamber Sixteen (16) local chambers of commerce have participated to date in the "Chamber to Chamber" Program coordinated by the Supreme Court's Community Relations Department.

The purpose of the Chamber to Chamber Program, named for its reference to both business organizations and judges' chambers, is to educate the non-lawyer business community on the role, operations and responsibilities of the judiciary at the district court level.

Delegations from the chambers of commerce spend a half-day observing routine activities by judges in chambers and in courtrooms, touring courthouse facilities and candidly discussing judicial procedures and processes with host judges.

"It's certainly not like Perry Mason," said River Parishes Chamber member and business consultant, Richard Drexel. "The average person, like me, doesn't get exposed to how the system works unless we are called for jury duty. I was impressed that the judge explained each procedure. It's not a big secret system."

For more information, call Supreme Court Community Relations at (504 599-0319)


Ipso Facto..It's A Fact!

Operations of the 22nd Judicial District temporarily ceased when a tornado unexpectedly blew through downtown Covington on the afternoon of Friday, November 21, 1997, severely damaging the courthouse and surrounding structures. The roof of one building was entirely ripped off, while another roof was severely damaged, causing several feet of water to pour in on court records, computers and employees. Miraculously, no one was injured amidst the flying glass, tree limbs and building debris.

Approximately 140,000 court records were quickly relocated to a nearby school gym, where tents and dehumidifiers were set up to dry wet court records. For 12 days, employees and others worked around the clock "fluffing" over 40% of the court's records to prevent mold and mildew damage. Fortunately, record losses were minimal but, even after repairs, courtroom roofs still leak when it rains.











YOUR HONORS

Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., currently celebrating 25 years on the Louisiana Supreme Court bench, is the recent recipient of numerous awards. He was presented the Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award by the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and was honored by the French Quarter Citizens for Preservation of Residential Quality for his dedication to the preservation of the Vieux Carre. In 1997 Chief Justice Calogero was elected to the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices.

Supreme Court Justice Bernette J. Johnson and Orleans Parish Second City Court Judge Mary "KK" Norman were recognized for their professional achievements by Women United for Civic and Government Improvement.

Judge Billy H. Ezell of the 14th Judicial District Court was presented the first annual Judge Richard Ware Award. The award, given by the Louisiana Children's Trust Fund in memory of Judge Ware, recognizes an individual for outstanding commitment and leadership in child abuse and prevention.

Judge Arthur L. Hunter of the Orleans Criminal District Court was awarded a Certificate in Judicial Development General Jurisdiction Trial Skills on November 21, 1997 from the National Judicial College.

Doug Welborn, Clerk of Court of the 19th Judicial District in East Baton Rouge, currently serves as the President of the Louisiana Clerks of Court Association having been sworn in April 1997.

The Louisiana Supreme Court was a recipient of the National Employer Leadership Council's 1998 School-to-Work Award for Employers. The award, based on nominations provided by local School-to-Work offices, is given to employers who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to this important workforce development system.


Any comments should be sent to:  Community Relations Department                     Phone: (504) 599-0311
                                                         Judicial Administrators Office                           E-Mail: mailto:outreach@lajao.org
                                                         1555 Poydras St.       Suite 1540
                                                         New Orleans, LA    70112-3701