[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish women vie for historic judicial seat

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sat Oct 5 08:37:28 EDT 2013

St. Bernard Parish women vie for historic judicial seat
Print Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Benjamin
Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on October 04, 2013 at 6:41 PM, updated October 04, 2013 at 6:42 PM

When the election for the state 34th Judicial District Court seat is decided
Oct. 19, one thing about its outcome is certain: St. Bernard Parish will
have a woman serving on the bench for the first time in its history.

Yet as attorneys Kim Cooper Jones and Jeanne Nunez Juneau both said that
they are honored to be a part of the historic race and acknowledge its
significance regardless of the victor, they each are campaigning at a frenzy
to differentiate themselves. The winner will fill the Division B judicial
seat vacated by Manuel "Manny" Fernandez. Early voting had been scheduled to
being Saturday (Oct. 5), but was pushed back until Monday by Tropical Storm

Both Jones and Juneau argue that they have more experience than their
competitor. Juneau said running her own firm is a plus and shows
independence and managerial skill. She also touts her time in public service
working as an attorney for parish government.

Click here for bios, platforms of the Division B candidates.

Jones meanwhile said her work as a partner at Ginart & Jones has prepared
her for handling many more types of cases. And she said that her internship
during law school at the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, under
Harry Connick Sr., gave her a better insight into criminal felony cases than

"Over the course of my 20-plus years as an attorney, I've handled just about
everything," Jones said.

Juneau said she too has handled criminal felony cases, but both women
admitted that they mainly have focused on civil matters throughout their

Juneau pointed to her regular guest lecturing at Tulane University as
experience in presiding over a room of people, adding to her preparations
for judicial duties in part by training her to encourage healthy Socratic

In terms of potentially being the first female on the bench, Jones said that
"being part of this historic moment means a tremendous amount," and that "a
diverse bench makes for a stronger judiciary."

Both Jones and Juneau also recently acknowledged the significance of the
early voting period.

In fact, Juneau, 41, of Chalmette, recalled how during her run in 2010 for
the St. Bernard seat on the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, poor early
voting results ultimately doomed her campaign. In that race, Juneau received
half the early votes of her rival, Judge Danny Dysart, who eventually won
the seat with 54 percent of the total vote.

For Jones, 44, of Meraux, this is her first run for public office, but she
too emphasized how early voting potentially could determine the race.

And so for the past several months, each candidate has been arguing her case
door-to-door, planting lawn signs and shelling out thousands of dollars for

Jones and Juneau both pointed to the fact that, on election day, many parish
residents likely will be distracted by other area events: the Violet Oyster
Festival and the LSU-Ole Miss football game both are being held Oct. 19.
Those events are expected to drop turnout below the already-anticipated poor
showing due to the judicial race being the only item on the parish's ballot.

In comparison, the 2010 parish Court of Appeal's race had several other
state and local ballot measures but still garnered only 22.3 percent voter
turnout, or about 5,900 voters. That's in contrast to the parish's
jam-packed Nov. 19, 2011 ballot - which included the sheriff, parish
president and clerk of court races - that brought out 12,665 voters, or 50.9
percent of the parish's registered votes.

In terms of financial backing, Jones is by far the underdog. The most recent
campaign finance reports filed last month show that Juneau raised and spent
more than triple what Jones received and dished out.

Jones raised $23,300 through the most recent Sept. 9 reporting period.
That's compared to Juneau's $76,086.95.

Jones used $6,546.27 from her own personal funds, whereas Juneau spent only
$100 of her own savings.

In total through that reporting period, Juneau spent $69,263.91 on her
campaign, compared to Jones' $22,363.81.

But when asked about Juneau's financial resources, Jones said "I don't think
money necessarily wins elections."

Both Jones and Juneau said that, if elected, they would attempt to improve
education about the dangers of drug use, an issue each said is one of the
parish's major challenges. They also emphasized that they would not
legislate from the bench.

Jones, a Republican, said that she would work to impose harsher penalties,
as provided by law, for repeat offenders.

After interning for the New Orleans District Attorney's Office during law
school, Jones joined the Law Firm of Tonry & Ginart in 1993. Jones now is a
partner in the firm, Ginart & Jones.

Juneau, a Democrat, said that she would demand professionalism in her
courtroom, and that she would work to conduct more pretrial conferences "to
discourage frivolous actions that waste critical time."

If elected, she said she would want people to look back on her career as
judge and say "Jeanne always treated me fair."

Juneau has served as a legal counsel for St. Bernard government since Parish
President Dave Peralta took office in January 2012. She currently is on
leave from that position as she campaigns for judge.

Juneau has run her own law firm for the past 12 years, and previously worked
as an associate for Aubert & Pajares and for Lobman, Carnahan, Batt,
Angelle, & Nader.

The Division B seat was vacated when Fernandez retired May 31 after 12 years
on the bench. The Louisiana Supreme Court appointed retired Judge Robert
"Bobby" Klees, a former chief judge of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, who
temporarily took over Fernandez's vacated seat on June 3.

Fernandez's six-year-term would have expired in December 2014; this election
is to fill the remainder of his term.

St. Bernard residents can cast early voting ballots from 8:30 a.m. to 6
p.m., Monday through Saturday, Oct. 12 at the parish Registrar of Voters
Office, which is in Room 104 of the parish Government Complex, 8201 W. Judge
Perez Dr., Chalmette.

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