Veteran Baton Rouge City Court Judge Alex “Brick” Wall said Wednesday he’s retiring later this month, with 42 years in the legal profession and four years remaining on his current six-year term, because it’s “time to slow down.”
“I chose to step away with a little pep in my step,” the 66-year-old Wall said during an interview in his City Court office. “I’m a happy man as I sit here right now.”
Wall’s retirement takes effect Feb. 20, but the Louisiana Supreme Court has appointed him to serve on a temporary basis for six months beyond that date — subject to further renewal — until a special election is held to fill the Division C vacancy.
It will be up to the governor to set a date for that election.
Wall, a Democrat who was first elected to City Court in 1999, said he is in good health and added that a pending civil rights lawsuit in Baton Rouge federal court that seeks to redistrict the City Court election boundaries had nothing to do with his retirement decision.
“Absolutely not. My life is not going to be dictated by what happens in federal court,” he stressed.
The lawsuit, filed in 2012, claims the two-decade-old system of electing three Baton Rouge City Court judges from a majority-white subdistrict and two more from a predominantly black subdistrict is out of whack with the city’s growing black population and should be altered.
Section 1 of City Court covers the western part of Baton Rouge, downtown, south Baton Rouge and most of the city north of Choctaw Drive. It is a majority-black subdistrict containing Divisions B and D. The sitting City Court judges in those divisions — Kelli Terrell Temple and Yvette Alexander, respectively — are black.
Section 2 covers everything else to the east, and most of the city south of Choctaw and Greenwell Springs Road, and is a majority-white subdistrict consisting of Divisions A, C and E. The sitting City Court judges in those divisions — Laura Davis, Wall and Suzan Ponder, respectively — are white.
Wall acknowledged Wednesday he started thinking about retirement before running for re-election in 2012.
“It’s time to slow down. I’ve been in the business 42 years. I thought now was as good a time as any,” he said.
Wall insisted he’s not “getting out of the game” and wants to serve in an ad hoc capacity even after he leaves City Court, and perhaps maintain a part-time law practice.
“I believe there will be opportunities down the road,” he said. “I’ll remain in the game.”
Wall said he won’t miss the “politics” associated with the job but will miss interacting with litigants and lawyers.
“I’m going to miss the people. I’m going to miss my colleagues,” he noted.
Wall said he promised voters in 1999 that he would be fair and impartial; treat everyone with respect, dignity and courtesy; and maintain a current court docket.
“I believe the promises I made, I lived up to those promises,” he said.