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Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Guest Judge Trudy white

Show # 104


Attorney, Locke Meredith, interviews Judge Trudy White, with the 19th judicial district court.  They will talk about the differences between being a city court judge and a district court judge, as well as Judge White’s life.

Judge White went college at Howard University in Washington D.C. as well as Harvard School of Government, Kellogg School in Northwest, and graduated from LSU Law School.  After schooling, Judge White worked her way through the Department of Revenue, being promoted to Chief Attorney to the Child Support Enforcement program.  Here, Judge White started and implemented the federal program of income assignment.   This program uses the power of the Federal Government to help ensure that child support payments are properly accounted for.  If an established parent doesn’t pay child support, and the government finds out someone owes that parent money, like an employer, the government can garnish his/her wages to reimburse the money the state has paid out through the Aid to families with dependent children (AFDC).  This helps to properly allocate taxpayers’ dollars.

When she was younger, before getting involved in law, Judge White was had an interesting experience at the courthouse.  Through looking for a judgment of possession for her father, she discovered that the file she needed was being used for research, by an attorney.  This ended up unfolding into a discovery that Judge White’s grandfather had been a member of the United Negro Recreation Association, an association that purchased property back in the 1940’s so that African American children could have the opportunity to have recreational facilities.  This property was sold to BREC, with a reversionary clause that said they if they property were ever transferred to anything besides recreation, it would revert back to the United Negro Recreation Association.   Judge White had a documentary filmed telling this whole story, and it is called Baton Rouge’s Troubled Waters: The Brooks Parks Story. It is available for purchase through LPB.

Returning to Judge White’s professional life, the Judge talks about her progression through the Department of Revenue.  She was appointed by two Governors, Governor Edwards and Governor Roemer, to assistant secretary at the Department of Revenue.  Eventually, she was promoted to general council for the Department or Revenue.  Judge White’s time in the Department of Revenue ended in a wrongful termination, but she says this was for the best, and prepared her for her next career moves.

First, Judge White worked for the Zion City Community Development Corporation for less than $1,000 a month.  After a year and a half here, she was asked to run a pro bono clinic in the Leo S Butler Community Clinic.  She was the only executive director, and made only one thousand dollars a month, far less than she was making at the Department or Revenue.   Through her time here, people began to recognize that she had what it took to run for city court judge.  Her community encouraged her, and when the seat opened up, she ran.  Judge White didn’t have the money to run billboards or commercials, but she was elected nonetheless, in 1999, and served for eight years.  She was the first black female judge to be elected to division B.  As city court judge, she saw cases in the civil arena with disputes up to twenty thousand dollars, and criminal misdemeanor cases as well.

After serving the city court for eight years, Judge White ran for 19th judicial district court (JDC).  Judge White ran against a twenty-year incumbent, Judge Calloway.   Judge White raised only seven thousand dollars but after a long and close race, she won 19th Judicial Court Judge.   After being elected, Judge White was trained more in New Orleans, where she was assigned a mentoring judge.  She was very thankful for this.  Being recently elected, Judge White gets the last pick of the cases in the 19th JDC.  Despite this, she has managed to handle both a criminal and civil docket, the only one out of fifteen doing that.

Judge White explains how a criminal case in prosecuted in the 19th JDC.  Assistant District Attorneys prosecute the cases.  The cases are instituted by a bill of information.  An assigned public defender is made up of a three-person team, as is the prosecution.  The cases are scheduled for arraignments and motions and trial, but this usually takes a while due to the case volume.  A misdemeanor case is punishable by a fine of five thousand five hundred dollars or less and jail of less than six months, while a felony is anything beyond that.

Criminal duty is another role that Judge White serves while serving the 19th JDC.  While assigned to criminal duty, a one-week assignment, you are on call, working with law enforcement officers at any time of day or night they need you to issue arrest or search warrants.  Eight judges on the 19th JDC handle criminal cases, while seven handle exclusively civil cases.  Judge White says she sometimes works fourteen hours a day.

Judge White is currently sponsoring a crime scene investigation program that will be held at Mckinley Middle School.  This program, for rising ninth graders, will teach them about DNA, finger printing, documenting a crime scene, the DA and the public defender.  There will be a crime scene set up by state police, and a trial at the end.  Another program Judge White is involved in is called The Miracle Believers Education Tour.  This program bring female inmates into Baton Rouge school, to help teach the kids to avoid making the poor decisions that landed these women in prison.

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