Justice of the Peace Todd Clement Sr. retires after 28 years
Published 9:24 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023
LAPLACE — After 28 years of serving District 7, Todd J. Clement Sr. retired from his position as Justice of the Peace on May 16, 2023.
Clement recalls childhood days riding along with his father, former St. John the Baptist Parish Constable Gerald Clement Sr., as he served papers in his district. The impact his father made within the community inspired Clement to throw his name in the hat when the Justice of the Peace position was up for grabs in District 7.
Clement took office on February 4, 1995 after defeating Dixie Ramirez 3-1 in a local election. He’s run unopposed in every election since, and he has thoroughly enjoyed lending a helping hand and a listening ear to his constituents.
“It’s been a privilege to serve the people for 28 years. I wish I could continue, but we sold our house in Carrollwood and moved into District 5, so according to the law, I have to give up my position,” Clement said.
As a Justice of the Peace, Clement has officiated marriages, handled small claims court cases up to $5,000, signed arrest warrants, and notarized affidavits. While his district covers the Madewood subdivision to Belle Terre Lakes, Clement has gone above and beyond to help people outside of his district when a need arises. In one instance, an elderly woman living along River Road called him because she needed help with an $800 water bill.
“We were able to raise over $1,000 to pay her back water bill and a couple of months in advance. It was determined there was a leak, so we had it repaired,” Clement said. “She reached out to me because somebody told her I was helpful to the people. I love people, and I love helping people. To be able to help someone through a crisis gives you a good feeling.”
Some of the most unforgettable experiences over the past 28 years have been the marriages. One of the more unconventional ceremonies took place behind a bar on Airline Highway. The bride was two hours late because she was looking for her leather bra, and the aisle was formed from a line of revving Harley Davidson motorcycles. The next morning at 5 a.m., the groom came knocking at Clement’s door, asking for the papers back because he had “sold” his bride for some whiskey and a case of beer.
That wasn’t the only time Clement was surprised to see someone turn up on his doorstep. One day, he answered the door and jumped back when he was greeted by a man and a woman dressed in camouflage and holding shotguns in their hands. He was taken aback when the couple asked to be married, as they were dressed for a true Louisiana-style shotgun wedding.
“You never knew what you were going to run across,” Clement said.
There were many occasions when Clement had to separate his emotions from the law, especially when it came to evictions and small claims court.
“When two people are in a dispute, most of the time someone is going to leave mad because they always think they are entitled to the money they are suing for,” he said. “You have to show them the evidence versus the law and how you came to your conclusion.”
Now residing in District 7, Clement doesn’t have any immediate plans to throw his name into the next election. He’s using his retirement to soak up time with his children and grandbaby.
All Justice of the Peace requests in District 5 are currently being directed to Terry “Toney” Jones in District 4. Jones can be reached at 985-210-1826.