The third try was the charm for cable television personality D. Nicole Sheppard, who bested fellow attorney Omar Mason to win a spot on the Orleans Parish Civil District Court bench on Saturday.
Sheppard took 58 percent of the vote to Mason’s 42 percent in the run-off election for the Division J judgeship, which came one month after Sheppard placed first in the primary. She will serve the final three years of the term held by Judge Paula Brown, who was elected to the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in March.
Sheppard, a 43-year-old Algiers resident, made a run for recorder of mortgages as a law student in 2002 and lost a bid to become a Traffic Court judge in 2013.
As a solo practitioner, Sheppard handles everything from medical malpractice to family law to contracts to criminal defense. She teaches college students as an adjunct instructor and also hosts “Traffic Time,” a talk show where she dispenses advice on driving safety.
She came to the race with a slew of ideas for changes at the Civil District Court, including a new specialty mortgage court for homeowners behind on their payments and more technology in the courtroom.
Sheppard withstood criticism late in the race from Mason, who said she promised far more than she would be able to deliver as the most junior member of the civil bench. Sheppard countered that Mason had no experience in family law, which the Division J judge will handle for the first six months of the term.
Both candidates relied on signs and personal appearances to get the word out about their campaigns.
Mason is a civil defense attorney at the Aaron & Gianna firm whose practice focuses mostly on representing asbestos companies. He emphasized his high ranking among fellow lawyers and his command of complex litigation during his campaign.
Orleans voters will have another opportunity to pick a Civil District Court judge in the spring. Judge Tiffany Gautier Chase was elected to the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in October, creating a vacancy in her Division A spot on the bench.