Judge Laurie White Announces Retirement; New Election Could Be Called for Spring

Credit: Ballotpedia.org

Section A Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White has notified the Louisiana Supreme Court that she will be vacating her seat effective January 6, 2023. White has served as a judge since January, 2007. Her current term was set to end in 2026. Governor John Bel Edwards could call an election in the spring to fill White’s vacancy or he could wait until the fall when state-wide office holders, legislators and others will be on the ballot.

It is unknown if White’s decision to retire was based in part her purchase of property in St. Tammany Parish and the sale of her family residence in the French Quarter in August 2022. Even after White moved from her Governor Nicholls Street home, she maintained her voter registration at that address until this publication revealed she no longer owned the property. White also took a brief medical leave of absence during the summer would could also have played a role in her retirement decision.

Judge Laurie White has always been a tenacious jurist with a drive to get things done. She was well-respected by many for her leadership in creating a drug court and taking on extra assignments to better the community. While considered both passionate and a reformer, White’s personal style also got her in trouble on several occasions. In February, 2022 a courthouse staffer made a workplace sexual harassment claim against White for alleged sexual advances. The Louisiana Supreme Court never issued a ruling clearing White, though White’s own investigation from an outside law firm allegedly vindicated her.

Judge White’s seat might not be the only vacancy to fill in Criminal District Court. Section I Judge Karen Herman is currently a candidate for an at-large seat on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. Three candidates have indicated they are interested in running for Criminal Court. Among them is former candidate Diedre Pierce, who currently serves as Chief of Staff to Councilmember Oliver Thomas. Pierce qualified four years ago but was deemed ineligible by the courts. Former Judge Pro Tem Hunter Harris has also indicated he will run for an open criminal court seat. Harris sought the District F position when Judge Dennis Waldrop retired but was defeated by Judge Robin Pittman. Simone Levine, who recently headed the citizen’s watchdog group Court Watch NOLA is also said to be considering a race. Levine is now a member of DA Jason William’s staff. Herman also held the same Court Watch NOLA position as Levine before she ran for the judiciary.

If Governor Edwards calls one or both these elections for the March 25, 2023, qualifying will take place January 25-27, 2023. Candidates who have the financial resources and commitments already in place will benefit from a quick race.

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