Q&A:

The following answers were provided by Richard Ducote running for Judicial Court Judge in St. Tammany Parrish:



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?

Louisiana lawyer since 1978 * Child abuse/domestic violence victim advocates-42 years * J.D. Loyola Law ’78 * LL.M. (advanced law degree) Loyola Chicago Law 2011 * Earned law degree while a probation officer in the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court * In 1978, created special program to provide lawyers for abused kids * Special Assistant to Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health and Human Resources 1981-1984 * Appointed Special Assistant District Attorney in 19 parishes * Tried cases in 50 Louisiana courts * Argued in every Louisiana appellate court * Tried cases in 45 other states * Admitted also to the Pennsylvania Bar, and the Bars of the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. 3rd , 4th, 5th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals; and the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Louisiana, the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas; the Northern Districts of Ohio, the District of Colorado, and the Western District of Pennsylvania * Wrote over 25 laws for child abuse/family violence victims, and to prevent infanticide * Trained lawyers, judges, police, & psychologists at national & state programs for the ABA., the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Institute on Violence, Abuse & Trauma, domestic violence coalitions, child welfare agencies, and law schools * Honored by Justice for Children, The Northern Plains Tribal Inst., The National Association of Social Workers, the Young Lawyers Division of the ABA, The LSU School of Social Work, the Louisiana Foster Parent Assoc., and the United Way * Sol Gothard Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization of Forensic Social Work * Preeminent “A-V” highest rating from lawyers and judges for ethics and ability- 30 years * 1992 U.S. Supreme Court win for sexually abused kids * Judge Richard Ware Memorial Award from Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Board for child abuse prevention work * Adoption & foster care reform work * Defended state in roadway suits as Assistant Gen. Counsel Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development 1984-1986 * Cases and writings cited in legal textbooks * Many constitutional due process and First Amendment cases * Civil, criminal, and appellate experience nationwide, including jury trials.


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

No, judges are prohibited from continuing to practice law.


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

For most of my 42- year career I have managed my own small law practice, which had offices in two states for 14 years. I typically had 3-6 employees, including 1- 2 other attorneys. When working for another firm or the State, I supervised support staff. 


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

I have the ideal background to address these issues: A Tulane B.S. in Psychology (1974); Juvenile Probation Officer for the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court while in law school; Appointed Clinical Assistant Professor in the LSUMC Psychiatry Dept. as an attorney in the 90’s; worked with and trained mental health professionals and law enforcement for 42 years. At the same time, I have also worked for 42 years with adults and children who have been victims of violent crimes and understand the difference between those who end up in the criminal justice system mostly due to tragic life circumstances, and those who are indeed criminal predators, dangerous offenders, and selfish opportunists taking advantage of the vulnerable. Every person coming into the criminal system must be viewed and treated as a unique individual, and the resources of the 22nd Judicial District Courts specialty courts, which are tailored to mental health and substance abuse problems, must be appropriately utilized. What is not a criminal justice issue cannot be made one just to provide resources. Fortunately, we have on the Northshore good social services and treatment programs available—but need more. It is extremely important to determine if the individual is motivated to improve those aspects of their lives which can be changed, and individual responsibility must always be emphasized in the context of compassion and understanding. At the same time, public safety cannot be sacrificed. Finally, there must always be consequences for actual criminal activity, and a “second chance” cannot become official approval of more destruction. It is often a tough balancing act, but I will make fully-informed rational decisions in all cases, weighing what’s best for the individual and society, in an exercise of responsible and compassionate justice. 


5. It has been said that Justice is Blind. Today, many people do not believe that this is true and that justice is not color blind. How will you ensure fairness for all regardless of race or ethnicity?

First, my entire life and career have been based on fairness to people of all races and ethnicities. But, I will immediately build and maintain bridges with all groups in our communities, and will always be open to any concerns and ideas presented to ensure that goal is always maintained. I will always be alert to any bias or prejudice intruding into the cases, and will not tolerate it. Finally, I will be proactive with our schools, both speaking with students on a regular basis and bringing classes into the courtroom so that our residents will at an early age understand our justice system and feel that they are stakeholders in all aspects of it.