CONTACT PERSON: VALERIE WILLARD
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
| FEBRUARY 28, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr. and Justice Bernette J. Johnson joined the family and friends of retired Justice Revius O. Ortique, Jr. today for a ceremony unveiling a portrait of Justice Ortique. This portrait will be hung in the Louisiana Supreme Court Building alongside a historical array of portraits of former justices dating back to the early 1800's. Justice Ortique was the first African-American elected to sit on the bench of the state’s highest court.
“I had the great privilege of serving with Revius during his tenure on the Louisiana Supreme Court and I learned much from my colleague not just about the law and being a jurist, but about people. First and foremost, he was always concerned about people. The unveiling of the portrait of Justice Revius O. Ortique, Jr. is a fitting tribute to a living legend who has contributed so much to the legal profession and to our community ” said Chief Justice Calogero.
A native of New Orleans, the life of Revius O. Ortique, Jr. is marked by nearly 50 years of personal and professional achievement. According to Justice Johnson, “This year Justice Ortique will celebrate his 83rd birthday and over these 83 years he has held many titles: ‘Justice,’ ‘Your Honor,’ ‘The Honorable U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations,’ ‘Mr. Chairman,’ and ‘Esquire’, but the title I think fits him best is ‘a man of many firsts.’ ”
After attending New Orleans public and parochial schools, Justice Ortique received his B.A. degree in Sociology from Dillard University in 1947, his M.A. degree from the University of Indiana in 1949, and his J.D. from Southern University Law Center in 1956.
Justice Ortique, the lawyer, began his legal career in 1956 as a private practitioner with primarily an estate
practice. In these early years while struggling to keep his practice afloat, he also participated as co-counsel in many landmark civil rights cases. Within a few years he had distinguished himself as a lawyer and was elected President of two prominent African-American professional associations, the Southwest Bar Association and the Louis A. Martinet Society.
On a national level, Justice Ortique served two terms as President of the National Bar Association (NBA) and during this time joined with leaders of the American Bar Association in developing the Legal Services Program of the Office of Economic Opportunity. He remained on the NBA’s Advisory Council from 1964 until 1971.
Among his many professional “firsts,” Justice Ortique was the first African-American lawyer elected to the House of Delegates of the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA). His work with the LSBA’s Legal Aid Committee provided a foundation for many years as a model for pro bono lawyering. In 1986 he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the LSBA for his accomplishments in pro bono legal services.
Justice Ortique was first appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court as a judge pro tempore of Orleans Parish Civil District Court in 1978. The following year the citizens of New Orleans elected him as a judge of the same court where he served for two terms. Ultimately, he was elected by his fellow jurists as Chief Judge of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Ortique served in this capacity until he was elected to sit on the bench of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1992. He retired from the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1994 upon his reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
He served five full terms as President of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. For more than 30 years he has been an advocate for public schools in the New Orleans area, and was elected President of the Community Relations Council serving as “chief negotiator” for peaceful desegregation of lunch counters, hotels and other public facilities when these tough negotiations were undertaken in New Orleans.
Justice Ortique was chosen by four U.S. Presidents to serve in a variety of capacities. He has also served on several Boards and Commissions, too numerous to mention. He has been presented with many honors including: the “Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award” presented by the Consortium of Loyola, Tulane and Xavier Universities; an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Campbell College; an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Indiana; and Honorary Doctor of Laws from Loyola University, just to name a few.
The photo portrait, taken by Jim Thorns, will hang outside the Louisiana Supreme Court Fourth Floor courtroom.