By Natasha Robin | WVUE | November 4, 2020
NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) –“You’re looking at an almost 50 percent turnover in the court,” Rafael Goyeneche said.
Six of the 13 N.O. Criminal Court Judges are newly elected.
In Section L, Angel Harris beat incumbent Franz Ziblilich. In Section D, Kimya Holmes wins. In Section E, Rhonda Goode-Douglas beat her opponent. In Section G, Nandi Campbell won with 75 percent of the vote, and Juana Marine Lombard will be the new Magistrate.
Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission says its clear voters wanted change.
“We haven’t seen a change of this magnitude in decades at Criminal District Court,” Goyeneche said.
“The primary change that we’re seeing is that number one, it’s going to get more female because all of the elections last night were either won by a woman or a woman ran first in the race that’s going to a runoff. Secondly, the court is about to get a lot younger. You see a younger generation of attorneys that are now becoming judges,” Robert Collins, Ph.D. said.
Dillard University Professor Dr. Robert Collins believes the Judges will act more independently on the bench.
“Most of the Judges on Criminal District Court over the past 50 years have come from a small group of political organizations that have basically controlled that court for decades, so here you have a slate of independent candidates,” Collins said.
On the campaign trail, the candidates touted criminal justice reform and fixing racial disparities.
“I think that a lot of the candidates were talking about issues that were focused on the offenders and not on the victims, witnesses and the public’s right to safety, so we’re going to see how that plays out moving forward,” Goyeneche said.
“You have a more progressive set of candidates who are now going to become a more progressive set of judges,” Collins said.
Goyeneche points out, the newly elected Judges will be facing some tough challenges ahead.
“We’re still in the throes of the pandemic. There has not been a vaccine, so you can’t convene juries. We’re seeing the jail population increase. We’re seeing the docket size of the courts increase in all of this because no cases are being processed so the Judges that are elected are going to be challenged in ways that we haven’t seen since Hurricane Katrina,” Goyeneche said.