Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Madeleine Landrieu will step down from the bench to become dean of the Loyola College of Law, her alma mater, this summer, the school said Wednesday.
Landrieu, 55, a sister of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, has served 16 years on civil and appeals court benches in the city.
She was among four finalists for the dean's post, which has been held since August 2015 by the Rev. Lawrence Moore. His interim term ends this summer.
Landrieu, who graduated from the law school in 1987, won a vacant seat on the Orleans Parish Civil District Court in a landslide in 2001. She was twice re-elected with no opposition and then moved to the state appeals court in 2010, running unopposed for a seat vacated by former Judge Patricia Murray.
In landing at the 4th Circuit, she followed in the footsteps of her father, former Mayor Moon Landrieu, who sat on the same appeals court bench from 1992 until 2000.
“It has been my honor to serve in the Louisiana judiciary for the past 16 years,” Madeleine Landrieu said. “As I take this next step, I am reminded of a core value instilled in me by my parents and the Jesuits: ‘Go where you can best serve.’ ”
Rumors of her move to Loyola, and speculation that her brother Mitch could slide into the appeals court seat, have circulated in recent weeks among court watchers.
Mitch Landrieu has yet to announce his future plans when his term ends in May 2018. However, Tyronne Walker, a spokesman for the mayor, responded, "Emphatically, no," when asked if Landrieu is interested in the appeals court seat.
"I never thought I would leave the judiciary," Madeleine Landrieu said. "But when Loyola started looking for a dean two years ago, a lot of us (alumni) started talking about it, and somebody said, 'Why not you?' I decided if I could serve the community in that way, I'd be honored to do it."
In addition to the deanship, Landrieu will hold a post as Judge Adrian G. Duplantier professor of law. She said she's not yet sure what subject she will teach.
Her appointment returns Landrieu to a school to which her family has long held a close connection.
Moon Landrieu and four of his nine children, including the mayor, hold law degrees from Loyola, and several other family members, including Moon and his wife, Verna, hold undergraduate degrees from Loyola, Madeleine Landrieu said.
In 2005, the university bestowed an honorary doctorate on the entire Landrieu family, although then-Archbishop Alfred Hughes refused to attend the graduation ceremonies in apparent protest over the pro-choice stances of Mary Landrieu and Mitch Landrieu, then the lieutenant governor.
Citing the state's high poverty and incarceration rates, Madeleine Landrieu touted the law school's commitment to social justice, saying that "training lawyers to do that work is more important than ever."
Before taking the bench, she was a partner for a decade in the law firm Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier and Warshauer.
She also has served as board chair for Covenant House New Orleans, a shelter for homeless youth, and as a founding board member of the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families.
The ink was barely dry on the announcement Wednesday morning when Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman announced she will run for Landrieu's seat on the appeals court.
The 12-member court hears appeals from district courts in Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.