Judges, D.A. take oath

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2015

By Monique Roth

EDGARD — Louisiana history was made in St. John the Baptist Parish Monday when Bridget A. Dinvaut became the first black woman in state history to be sworn in as an elected district attorney.

“What a historic occasion here in St. John the Baptist Parish,” Justice John L. Weimer of the Louisiana Supreme Court said. “What a historic occasion for the state of Louisiana.”

Dinvaut, now one of only three female district attorneys in Louisiana, was sworn into office alongside Judges Madeline Jasmine, Mary Hotard Becnel and Sterling Snowdy of the 40th Judicial District Court.

Dinvaut said she was “happy to be here and serve the community I love and cherish.

“I am homegrown,” Dinvaut said Monday in front of the packed Edgard courtroom. “I am St. John Parish.”

A December runoff between incumbent Tom Daley and Dinvaut was scheduled after they were the top two vote getters Nov. 4, Daley securing 46.26 percent of the turnout (7,029 votes), compared to Dinvaut’s 34.31 percent (5,213 votes).

Daley withdrew from the runoff Nov. 10, citing health concerns.

Dinvaut asked Monday’s crowd to pray for Daley, whom she called a mentor and friend.

Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell told the four officials they were “elected to do justice, love mercy and hopefully realize (they) do need to walk humbly before God as well.”

Weimer swore Jasmine — who said the position of district judge was “all about furthering justice” — and Snowdy into their new terms.

An emotional Becnel was sworn into her fifth, and last, term as judge by husband Daniel Becnel Jr. and son Bradley Becnel.

“Forty-six years ago this month I walked into this courthouse for the first time as a secretary/court reporter, and I never left,” Becnel said smiling.

She said her journey from court reporter to lawyer, and ultimately judge, has led to a fulfilling career.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your judge,” she said, addressing the parish. “Thank you for your confidence.”