Appellate judge candidates speak at breakfast forum in Morgan City
MORGAN CITY, La. — The four candidates for the Division B seat on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal appeared at a Meet the Candidates breakfast today to introduce themselves.
The seat is on one of five circuit courts of appeal in Louisiana. The 1st Circuit consists of 12 judges and has jurisdiction over 16 parishes in Southeastern Louisiana. The seat is held by Circuit Judge Edward “Jimmy” Gaidry, who is retiring at year’s end.
William C. Dupont, a conservative Democrat, is a lifelong resident of the City of Plaquemine. He has been married to Mary Ardoin Dupont for 32 years, and they have two daughters. He attended Southeastern Louisiana College and then was admitted to Loyola University Law School where he received his juris doctorate. He was admitted to the Bar in 1975.
Dupont currently serves on the 18th Judicial District Court. He also served as city judge in Plaquemine for 14 years, eight years as a Louisiana district judge and as an assistant district attorney. In total, he has 22 years’ of judicial experience and 27 years in the private practice of law.
“We’re there to give equal justice to everybody,” he said of his time on the bench.
Having presided over 30,000 cases as a judge, Dupont said his theory is “I truly believe judges should not legislate from the bench.”
Mark D. Plaisance, a Republican, is from Baker and has been married for 28 years. He attended Nicholls State University and then was admitted to Louisiana State University Law School where he earned his juris doctorate. He was admitted to the Bar in 1994.
Plaisance has a background in journalism as a reporter, editor and publisher. He says that work is a matter of gathering facts and screening for truth with the goal of communicating a message that can be understood by all.
He currently serves as an appellate lawyer and also has served as city court judge in Baker.
“When cases go up on appeal, people like you hire me,” he said, noting he has been before the appellate court over 300 times.
“An appellate judge is like the replay judge in the booth,” Plaisance said, making reference to the NFL.
J. Christopher Erny, a Republican, is a native of Houma who is married to Gabrielle Gros Erny. They have three children. He attended LSU and then was admitted to LSU Law School where he earned his juris doctorate. He was admitted to the Bar in 1994.
He has been a practicing attorney for 18 years and serves as a Terrebonne Parish assistant district attorney in the 32nd Judicial District. As a litigator, Erny said he has been in front of courts all across Louisiana, the Louisiana Supreme Court and even in Mississippi. Working with the district attorney’s office, Erny has prosecuted over 1,000 cases.
“I’ve seen the look on victims’ faces. I know what they go through. That’s what I bring to the table,” he said, noting that whether they receive justice or not depends on the questions he asks.
Erny noted that two of his opponents are not litigators and would be overseeing a process they don’t take part in.
“That’s kind of like having the replacement officials in the NFL. That didn’t work out too well,” he said, referring to Plaisance’s NFL replay booth reference.
Mitchell Theriot, a Republican, is a resident of Raceland, and is married to Veronica Gauthreaux Theriot. He attended Nicholls and then was admitted to Loyola University Law School where he earned his juris doctorate. He was admitted to the Bar in 1988.
He has practiced law for 24 years and serves as a judge in the municipal courts of Lockport and Golden Meadow and worked as a business law professor at Nicholls. He was a former state representative.
“I love the law. Studying it, practicing it, shaping it, teaching it — teaching it gives a totally different perspective of it,” Theriot said, noting that students keep him up to date on the law as well as the application of law to current cases.
He noted that he serves as the chairman of the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeal which oversees one of the most complex law codes in the state.
“Knowledge is my platform — complete knowledge of the law,” he said.
The election will be held Nov. 6. A runoff, if necessary, will be held Dec. 8.