The second time was the charm for Tiffany Gautier Chase. She secured victory over another judge, Tracey Flemings-Davillier, in the race for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal on Saturday, a mere seven months after she lost a race for another spot on the appeals court.
Chase took 59 percent of the vote compared to Flemings-Davillier's 41 percent. Her term in Division B will expire in 2022.
She replaces Judge Paul Bonin, who traded the appeals court for a spot on the Criminal District Court bench earlier this year. The 4th Circuit hears cases from Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes but this division is only elected from New Orleans.
Chase and Flemings-Davillier ran a low-key race marked by little in the way of fireworks. However, both sought to draw contrasts between their relative experience in civil and criminal law.
Chase has held a spot on the Civil District Court bench since 2007, and before that she served as a law clerk for the Louisiana Supreme Court. In March she ran and lost a race for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal against Judge Paula Brown.
Chase touted her experience creating the state's first self-help desk for a civil court. She also boasted of her time spent judging civil law. She pointed out that the appeals court heard 271 appeals of civil cases in 2016 as opposed to 63 criminal appeals.
Flemings-Davillier also had experience in civil practice as an attorney with the Phelps Dunbar firm for 16 years. But in 2010 she was elected as a Juvenile Court judge, then parlayed that position for a spot on the Criminal District Court bench in 2013.
Flemings-Davillier argued that her experience in criminal law was critical in diversifying the appeals court bench, which is mostly populated by former civil judges from New Orleans. She also dismissed Chase’s experience in criminal law as a Supreme Court clerk.
“It’s not the same thing. Reading a brief and reading case law is not the same as being in court every day,” she said.
In the end, that pitch fell flat with voters.
However, there is already another spot on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal opening up in the near future. Judge Madeleine Landrieu, who is stepping down to become dean at the Loyola University law school, will be replaced in an election this spring.