Jude Gravois

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 13, 2009

1. Why are you the best candidate for this job?

I have more than 30 years of experience as a full-time practicing attorney, handling virtually all types of legal matters, including litigation, for thousands of persons from throughout the River Parishes and surrounding areas. I know and understand the law, both substantive and procedural. I know and understand people and have a very broad understanding and perspective of life. I have the correct personality and temperament to be a very effective Judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal. This is why I am the best candidate for this job.

There is absolutely no legal requirement that a judge on the court of appeal first be a district court judge. To be qualified to run for the court of appeal, you simply need to be an attorney for at least 10 years and must reside within the district for at least two years. I have been a full-time practicing attorney for more than 30 years and I have lived in this district for my entire life. I possess all of the legal qualifications for this office many times over.

I think it is important for the voters to know that it is very much not unprecedented in this state for someone who has not been a district court judge to be elected to the court of appeal. In fact, in this very same district, two out of our last three judges that have served us on this Court of Appeal, this very same position that I am running for, were not previously district court judges.

2. What makes you a better candidate than your opponent?

I want the voters to know and understand that I will bring something completely different to the bench on the Court of Appeal. I will bring a different perspective! A unique perspective! A perspective from the other side of the bench! A perspective from someone who can look at cases independently and through a different set of eyes.

I won’t review cases from the perspective of having previously been a district court judge. I will look at cases from a more independent perspective. Someone that has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in all sorts of cases. Someone who has been an Assistant District Attorney and a criminal prosecutor. Someone who has also represented persons who have been charged with crimes. Someone who has been on different sides of just about all legal matters that I have been involved with. I’ve seen just about everything from all sorts of different perspectives. And I’ve done that for more than 30 years involving all types of cases.

3. What is the most pressing problem facing the judicial system in St. John Parish?

One of the most pressing problems facing the judicial system in St. John Parish in my opinion is the lack of adequate courtroom facilities on the east bank of the River. We need better courtroom facilities on the east bank of the River to better serve our East Bank residents.

4. How do you plan to address that top problem?

I am in favor of improving courtroom facilities on the east bank and will work closely with our public officials to either improve existing courtroom facilities on the east bank of the River, or to construct new, properly designed courtroom facilities on the east bank of the River, both to better serve our residents on the east bank of the River and to provide better security for all courtroom personnel.

5. What are the other key issues you plan to address?

Many people feel that the wheels of justice sometime turn too slowly, especially in criminal cases. I think improvement on this issue is forthcoming with changes that are being implemented by new District Attorney Thomas Daley. On the appeals level, I will be a hard-working jurist and will handle all cases, both civil cases and criminal cases, that are assigned to me as expeditiously as is reasonably possible under the particular circumstances involved with each case.

Also, being a very accessible jurist is one of my priorities. I plan to have a district office in LaPlace with regular office hours so as to be accessible to my constituents in areas that I can be of assistance that are not in conflict with my duties as an appellate court judge.

Also, when warranted, I plan to clamp down on and decrease the number of and eliminate frivolous lawsuits that can clog the court’s docket.

6. How can you improve the juvenile drug problem?

All public officials need to work closely together to make progress in resolving our juvenile drug problems, including continued emphasis on better educating our youth on this issue and improvement of existing programs and implementation of additional programs to better address this issue at all levels of government, including the court system. As an appellate court judge, I will work with local public officials and the district court judges to improve/implement programs designed to help resolve the juvenile drug problems our communities face.

7. What is your position on the death penalty?

I feel that the death penalty is appropriate and warranted in some types of cases. I will, of course, very closely follow the law with respect to any and all issues involving the death penalty that come before me on the appellate level.

8. What do you think can be done to address the problem of teen pregnancy in Louisiana?

Our teens need to be better educated, both at home and in the classroom, as to all of the problems that they could face by being involved in unprotected sexual activities, especially at a young age. As an appellate court judge, I will work with local public officials, including educators, to improve/implement programs designed to help resolve the problem of teen pregnancy in our communities.

9. Biographical information. (Please limit your responses to 150 words or less.)

I am a lifelong resident of the River Parishes. I grew up right here along the Mississippi River.

I am a 1971 graduate of our public school system (St. James High School), 1975 graduate of Nicholls State University and a 1978 graduate of the LSU Law School. I have earned a reputation for outstanding legal work throughout my long career. As an Assistant District Attorney I prosecuted criminals, working to protect the rights of crime victims. I also served as an indigent defender, providing legal counsel to people who could not afford a lawyer. I’ve represented public bodies, including the parish council, school board and levee district. My clients come from all walks of life and I have helped them with domestic, criminal, estate, probate, property and business matters, among others.

I have been married for 31 years to Sonia Steib Gravois of Vacherie. We are the parents of two children, Josh and Abby, and daughter-in-law Colette. We attend Our Lady of Peace and St. Philip Catholic Churches.