Orleans Parish juvenile judge race heads to runoff

Voters on Saturday sent two Orleans Parish juvenile judge candidates to a runoff next month to fill a vacant seat on the bench.

Doug Hammel secured 43 percent of the vote, while Yolanda King received 25 percent of ballots cast, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State.

Rounding out the field of candidates were Cynthia Samuel, with 23 percent of the vote, and George “Gino” Gates, with 9 percent.

The runoff election is May 4.

Whoever wins that election will replace former Deputy Chief Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier, who won election in November to Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

Hammel, 40, is a former Jefferson Parish prosecutor who has managed his own law office since he left the public sector.

While this has been his first run for public office, he managed to secure many high-profile endorsements, including District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, the clerks of criminal and civil court and five of the seven City Council members.

If elected, Hammel has promised to evaluate the existing court structure in an effort to streamline operations while focusing on crime prevention among juveniles.

King, 55, is a former court clerk and former Orleans Parish district attorney. She, too, has been in private practice for the last several years. She previously ran unsuccessful campaigns for judgeships at Criminal District Court in 2008 and for Juvenile Court in 2002 and 2004.

King has campaigned on her experience in the courtroom, saying that she is prepared to be in a leadership position and will not need any time to adapt to the role.

She also has said she will find ways to shore up financial losses the court will face as the city cut back some of the funding it provides the court.