The following answers were provided by Tracey Turgeau Powell running for City Judge City Court, City of Slidell:

1. Describe your prior court experience as a practicing attorney or government office holder, including any civil and criminal court trials, the number of jury and judge trials, and your record for settlements and plea bargains.

I have been engaged in general practice for 15 years, mostly in the areas of Family law, criminal defense, and civil law. Family is also considered civil law. In the 22nd Judicial District Court, I have enrolled in the following since being a licensed attorney:

167 family law cases 79 criminal cases 108 Civil cases

The 22nd Judicial District does not include Slidell City Court cases, or any other cases outside of St. Tammany. I have also handled cases in multiple other Parishes including Jefferson, Orleans, and Tangipahoa. The above numbers give you a pretty good idea of the range of subject matter I have dealt with. Most family cases settle, as well as most civil cases. To go back and look up the outcome of each would take hours, but from memory I know I have tried 6 jury trials. Probably 4 or 5 criminal trials (most criminal cases result in a plea). I would estimate that most of my trial experience is in family law hearings, juvenile hearings, and civil judge trials.

2. Will you maintain a private law practice if elected? If so, what type of cases will you take?

No, if elected, I will no longer practice law. I will not take any new cases. I will “hand off” all cases to other attorneys so long as it does not cause harm to my clients in any way. Because there is some time between the election and the date the new judge will take the bench, hopefully there will be ample time to wrap up and conclude the remaining cases prior to January 1, 2019.

3. Please describe your management and budget experience. How many and what types of employees have you supervised?

3-1  During my tenure as Justice of the Peace I had three employees in my office including my law office staff and the Justice of the Peace clerk, who was a full time employee. I was tasked with managing two businesses running alongside each other, while keeping expenses separate and budgeting for the court to ensure that the incoming filing fees covered the expenses of the court, as it was completely self-funded. Justices of the Peace do not receive any city or parish funds to run their courts. The money comes from filing fees only.

3-2  Further, I owned and operated a class “A” licensed daycare center from 2009 until 2013. I supervised 13 employees, and operated on a restricted budget. I managed a total of 13 employees including the director, childcare workers, and maintenance staff. I was responsible for budgeting for supplies, managing state funds (child care assistance) that some parents qualified for, and meticulous record keeping, as is required by state law for class “A” licensed daycare centers. I renovated the building myself, budgeting for all costs of construction and improvements. This was especially challenging, given the strict structural requirements not only for daycare centers, but also the enhanced standards of the State Fire Marshall, and the Americans with Disabilities Act which mandates additional requirements for disabled people. I was able to complete this renovation and open the center within the allotted budget.

3-3  As an attorney I have always had at least one and up to three employees in my firm, including staff and other attorneys, and was responsible for managing and operating my practice efficiently, including payroll, 401K contributions, and all expenses associated therewith.

4. What are your beliefs regarding alternative sentences for non-violent offenders, juveniles, and people experiencing homelessness, mental illness, or drug addiction?

I have a different approach to different types of offenders. Violent or not, I believe a judge has to look at the issue of public safety, and evaluate each individual defendant’s actions. For example, someone convicted of battery for getting in a fist fight may not pose a threat to the public so much as someone convicted of driving while intoxicated, a “non-violent” offense. The judge must look at the facts of each case when sentencing individuals, and further assess their likelihood of re-offending. I have no problem with giving someone a second chance if they make a mistake, but not at the expense of the public. I appreciate the diversion program, as it is more cumbersome than probation in most cases, and has more strict requirements, and is more expensive. However, as a criminal attorney I have seen entirely too many people driving around this town and our parish with multiple DWI convictions, still drinking. Our DWI laws are too lenient. In many states a 2nd offense DWI is a felony. Here it is rare for a defendant to get jail time even on a 3rd offense. I think if there was a small amount of jail time imposed on a 1stoffense (even 2 weeks), it would be a huge deterrent for future offenses.

Homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction are often all present at the same time, especially mental illness and drug addiction. I believe our court system often fails people with mental illnesses, and if elected, I plan to explore this avenue with defendants if there is any indication of habitual drug use or other indicators of mental illness. This factor definitely needs to be considered in sentencing for these defendants.

Juveniles are a whole different story. I believe the judge in a juvenile case has duty to build a bond with the child who appear

5. The City Court is funded primarily by court cost assessments and other fees for services. Does this represent a conflict of interest? Should other sources of funding be sought, and, if so, what sources would you explore? 

I don’t necessarily believe that there is a conflict, because most fees that fund Slidell City Court are civil filing fees on a fee for service basis. What most people don’t realize is that the criminal fines and costs are dedicated to other agencies by law, so the court doesn’t necessarily receive anything additional if a defendant is found guilty. For civil cases, the costs for service is spent at the beginning, so when the judge renders the decision on the case that decision does not affect the amount of money the court has already received.