The three-day candidate qualifying period kicks off Wednesday for a pair of seats on the 18th and 19th Judicial District Court benches.

State District Judge Tony Marabella, 71, of the 19th JDC announced in September that he is retiring May 1.

Former state District Judge Robin Free of the 18th JDC resigned in June, several weeks before he was set to return to the bench following a yearlong suspension.

The elections for the seat Marabella has held since 2003, and the seat Free had held since 1996, are scheduled for March 24 with runoffs April 28 if needed.

Early voting runs March 10 and March 12-17.

Fred Crifasi, one of Marabella's former law partners, is the only announced candidate to date for the 19th JDC Division H seat. The 19th JDC hears cases from East Baton Rouge Parish.

Tom Acosta, Tonya Lurry, Miracle Myles and Thomas McCormick are among those expected to qualify to run for the 18th JDC Division B seat that retired Judge Edward "Jimmy" Gaidry has been filling on an interim basis since July.

The 18th JDC hears cases from West Baton Rouge, Iberville and Pointe Coupee parishes.

Marabella's term does not expire until the end of 2020, but he would not have been eligible to run again because of his age. He has been involved in the legal profession for 45 years and said he decided it was time to slow down.

Free's term also wasn't set to expire until Dec. 31, 2020, so whoever wins that election also will serve through the end of 2020.

Free was suspended without pay for a month in 2014 for accepting an all-expense-paid trip from a Texas lawyer whose client was awarded $1.2 million in a personal injury lawsuit tried in the judge's court.

He was suspended again for a year without pay in mid-2016 for comments in front of a victim's family showing bias toward prosecutors, abusing his contempt authority in two separate cases, making inappropriate remarks toward women during domestic abuse proceedings and using slang when speaking to defendants in several criminal cases.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.