New Orleans juvenile judge bill dies

A move to eliminate two Orleans Parish juvenile court judgeships died Tuesday in a state Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary C Committee voted 3-2 to defer action on the House-passed measure.

House Bill 607 would have reduced the number of Orleans juvenile court judgeships from six to four. The measure was promoted by the city of New Orleans which sought to use the savings for programs and services geared to juveniles.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, said judgeship eliminations are warranted because of reduce caseloads. She said city could save an estimated $827,000 and the state some $400,000 in judicial pay.

Moreno said three different studies have been done demonstrating the judgeships are not needed. “The workload of some judges is a few days out of every month and during those days only a couple of hours,” she said. Moreno said the four remaining judges could “easily” take on the workload.

State Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, told the panel that the Judicial Council is currently studying the whole issue of eliminating judgeships when they are no longer warranted. “You have to assess the workloads,” said Murray. “It’s hard to look at in a vacuum. You have to look at the complexity of the cases.”

“Let us finish the work we are doing,” said Murray.