New Orleans — The race to replace Judge Lynda Van Davis in Section B of Orleans Parish Criminal Court features a sitting juvenile court judge and a longtime, former prosecutor in the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office who both claim to be uniquely qualified for the position.
Glen A. Woods and Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier are facing off for the chance to replace Van Davis, who left the bench in July citing an impending wedding. Woods has no prior political experience, and Davillier is currently serving her first term as a juvenile court judge.
Woods touted his experience as litigator, saying that he handled 250 jury trials under former District Attorney Harry Connick and prosecuted high-profile police corruption cases such as the murder trial of former New Orleans police Officer Antoinette Frank. Woods said Davillier only sees criminal court as a steppingstone to higher office, while he sees it as an important place to affect the community.
“My opponent has zero jury trials,” Woods claimed, although Davillier has disagreed with that assertion. “I have the trial experience, I know Tulane and Broad.”
Woods said that judges are limited in what they can do for defendants once they enter the courtroom, and that’s why it’s crucial to be an advocate in the community. Although Woods promised to be tough on violent offenders, he said his goal is to help youngsters avoid the justice system entirely.
He wants to put pressure on the educational system to create programs that help children with conflict resolution. Woods thinks conflict resolution needs to be treated as seriously as reading and math if the violence in the city is going to decrease.
“I guarantee you’d see a reduction in crime,” Woods said. “It’s a vicious cycle unless we as a community decide we want to stop it.”
Davillier said she not only has experience in the courtroom but has invaluable experience as an advocate for reform. She’s already been a judge and understands how the system works, which she says will allow her to hit the ground running in criminal court. Davillier added that she has already shown herself to be an efficient and professional judge, who has gained the respect of attorneys on both sides of the aisle.
“People have worked with me, and they’ve seen my work,” she said.
Davillier also cited her history of working in the community with young people and the groups dedicated to assisting them. She’s advocated for abused and neglected children, and she’s helped develop educational guidelines for children being released from youth prisons, she said.
Davillier and Woods agree that young adults are driving crime in the city, and Davillier said her experience in juvenile court has prepared her for handling that population.
She promised to be tough on violent offenders, but she said she understands how to balance accountability and understanding.
Davillier, who has an undergraduate degree in sociology, denied claims that she used juvenile court as a steppingstone and plans to do the same with criminal court, are unfounded.
“I’ve always been involved in social issues, always been involved in the community,” Davillier said. “What I get is the sense that I can do more for my community.”