Whipple becomes  1st Circuit’s first female chief judge

Vanessa Guidry Whipple, who in 1990 became the first woman elected to the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, will be sworn in Wednesday as the Baton Rouge appellate court’s first female chief judge.

“I’m a little bit overwhelmed. It’s an honor and a lot of responsibility. I’m very humbled by it,” Whipple, 57, of Bourg, said Monday.

The 1st Circuit’s longtime chief judge, Burrell Carter, 77, of Greensburg, retired at the end of 2012. He had served on the appeals court since 1982 and was the court’s chief judge since 1999.

Whipple, who has served under four chief judges during her tenure on the appellate court, said she realizes she has big shoes to fill.

“Yes indeed. (Carter) did a lot to help me prepare for this,” Whipple said.

“I’m looking forward to it,” she added, noting that the 1st Circuit is a very busy court. “I know there’s a lot to do. I’m ready to go.”

Whipple, a lifelong resident of Terrebonne Parish, was recently re-elected to a third term. She was unopposed.

Whipple will be sworn in as chief judge at an investiture ceremony Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the courthouse, 1600 N. Third St. The public is invited to attend.

Whipple, who is married to lawyer Keith Whipple, served eight years on the Louisiana Judiciary Commission, including serving as its chair.

She sits on a Louisiana Supreme Court advisory committee that considers proposals to the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

The 1st Circuit, one of five state appeals courts in Louisiana, serves 16 parishes: Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, Assumption, Ascension, Iberville, Point Coupee, East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, St. Helena, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Washington, and St. Tammany.