Pair vies for 22nd JDC judgeship

Alan Zaunbrecher
Alan Zaunbrecher

Covington lawyers Scott Gardner and Alan Zaunbrecher both point to their professional experience as reasons why they should be elected to fill the state 22nd Judicial District Court seat left vacant when William J. Crain was elected to the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal last year.

Gardner, who resigned his post as an assistant district attorney in St. Tammany to run for the Division G judgeship, said his 25 years as a prosecutor has shown him the immense impact a judge can have on people’s lives.

Zaunbrecher, a lawyer in private practice, says his 33-year career has provided a diversity of legal experience, including 11 years as a mediator, that is important for a judge.

The election for the seat in the 22nd Judicial District, which covers St. Tammany and Washington parishes, is Saturday.

Gardner said he has tried about 400 jury trials involving child abuse, rape, murder and narcotics trafficking.

As a judge, he said, “if someone is violent or they prey on our children, they’ll be tried swiftly and, if convicted, sentenced harshly.’’

Gardner said he will make sure young people in trouble with the law are drug-tested on Mondays to ensure that they are not using illegal substances during weekends.

“We’ll do our best to save as many of our young people as we can,” he said. “We’ll find out if they can read and write. … We’ll find out if mental illness is driving their criminal behavior, and we’ll use our best practices to rehabilitate them rather than incarcerate them.”

Gardner promised to operate a prompt, courteous and respectful courtroom that is accessible to everyone.

“Seeing the young lives that I can help change drives me literally to do this,’’ he said.

Zaunbrecher says he has represented individuals, small businesses, major corporations and government bodies in his private practice. As a mediator, he’s been involved in more than 1,000 cases, “helping people resolve issues without the time, expense and uncertainty of a trial,’’ he said.

He also points to his record of doing pro bono work. “I believe a judge should have diverse legal experience. That’s what I bring to the court,’’ he said.

As a lawyer in private practice, he said, he knows how to run a small business and will bring that ability to the court.

Zaunbrecher said he would evaluate every procedure with a eye toward efficiency, effectiveness and justice.

“Things take too long to get through the system’’ he said.