Meet the Candidate
Tell us about yourself.
I have been practicing law for 16 years. During that time, I have had a very wide range of experiences, including working as a corporate lawyer handling medical malpractice, asbestos, class action, and insurance litigation; as a solo practitioner handling family law, personal injury and criminal cases; as a prosecutor handling juvenile court, child abuse, narcotics, traffic court and misdemeanor cases; as a law clerk for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal; and as the hearing officer ruling on code enforcement cases for the Parish of St. John. I am also the very proud mom of five children, two stepchildren, two grandchildren, a dog, a cat and a host of fish.
Throughout my career, I have been especially proud of my ability to effortlessly juggle my work and home life while actively engaged with my children. Since becoming a parent, I have been able to graduate from Tulane University with a Masters in Architecture, as well as graduate magna cum laude from Southern University Law School, while taking on extra challenges like working as Executive Editor and publishing with the Southern University Law Review. I have also been able to work with much success in very rigorous legal environments. During this time, I have still been able to remain active and volunteer in the legal community as well as in my local community. The accomplishment that I am probably most proud of, however, is having the pleasure of being able to homeschool my children for the last three years while maintaining a full time career--something I attribute largely to my faith in God, my love of learning, and my love for my children.
What motivated you to run for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal?
A deep rooted love of the law and my love of the people of Louisiana. As the daughter of a school teacher and an oil and gas lawyer both raised in poverty along the banks of the Mississippi, I grew up with strong Christian family values, an intense love of learning, and also a very real appreciation and respect for the law. As a child, I would spend countless days in the classroom with my mom while she attended graduate school, and with my dad as he attended law school. I would listen to law lectures with my dad, listen to him debate classmates debate on legal issues, and read his law books to pass the time. During that time I learned a great deal about the importance of understanding both sides of arguments and then using and applying the law to reach a fair and balanced decision. From my parents, I also learned the importance of fighting for justice and maintaining a strong work ethic, regardless of any challenges life might throw your way. These are values that I have continued to hold dear as a parent and as a lawyer in every area in which I have practiced. These values are also what have motivated me to run for this position.
Not many people know this, but the appellate court is different from the trial court in that the judges do not spend as much time in the courtroom. Rather, days are primarily filled with reading and analyzing countless volumes of legal briefs, carefully reading and considering each side's position, and doing your best to arrive at a conclusion that is fair and balanced based on a reasonable interpretation and unbiased application of the law. As an appellate law clerk, it is a process that I gained a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for and I would be absolutely honored to step into that role as a judge on behalf of my family, neighbors and friends here in the River Parishes.
Do you think that being a homeschooling parent will impact your ability to be an effective judge?
Absolutely not. In fact, quite the opposite will be true. I believe that this year has been a very tough year for a lot of parents and grandparents with so much going on in the news compounded by the stress and devastation that has been caused by COVID, especially here in the River Parishes where so many families have been profoundly impacted. While I usually attribute my resolve to homeschool to my faith, I also recognize that my entire career trajectory has been impacted by seeing my own parents balance raising my siblings and I while attending school and advancing their careers. Because I saw them do it, I knew without a doubt that I could do it too.
I often go back to a time when I was a younger lawyer attending a banquet I had helped organize as a board member for the Louis A. Martinet Society, an organization comprised primarily of Black lawyers and whose lawyers has historically championed for civil rights throughout Louisiana. Pioneer attorneys, Johnnie Jones, Derrick Edwards, and Judge Calvin Jones, were all being honored that night. After everyone had spoken, my husband looked around and said that growing up he never saw Black lawyers. He also said that he believed children dream bigger when they are able to engage with leaders who look like them. It struck me in that moment that sometimes people really do have to see things to know that they are possible. It was actually experiences like that which ultimately motivated me to leave corporate law and work with children in the the juvenile court system. I wanted to be relatable. I wanted to help children who were making the wrong choices make better choices with the understanding that dreams are achievable regardless of where you come from, how much money you have growing up, or how many obstacles life might throw your way.
To tie back into the question, I know that homeschooling my children will not impact my ability to be a hardworking and well-prepared judge. Rather, it will make me a better judge because I will have unique experiences such as being a homeschooling working parent to bring to the bench. As with past endeavors, I hope that in stepping out completely on faith and pursuing this dream, many other parents will see that they can handle the many challenges that 2020 has brought their way and realize that it will certainly be challenging, but that they too can do this. In fact, I had to see other parents doing it first, to realize it was a possibility. To be fair, it is not easy, but it is very much worth it. At the time it was hands down the best decision we could have made for our family and our children. Lastly, I believe that in the end, good will come out of this pandemic. I believe that there will be positive changes in how Americans start to do business. I believe that more companies will find ways to have workers achieve a better work-life balance. And I sincerely hope that as a result, the next generation of children will be happier, healthier and make better decisions because more families will be doing more of life, including working and learning, together.