Monique Barial beat out Janet Ahern in the runoff for a vacant seat on the Orleans Parish Civil District Court bench that will be dedicated to domestic law matters.

Barial, an attorney who served as minute clerk for Civil District Judge Chris Bruno before her run for the office, won with 55 percent of the vote.

The runoff was for a seat with no incumbent, left vacant after Judge Michael Bagneris stepped down from the bench to run a failed campaign to unseat Mayor Mitch Landrieu. It is being converted into a permanent domestic section, devoted to matters such as divorce, custody and child support.

The results were in line with the primary vote, where Barial took 39 percent to 34 percent for Ahern. The third candidate, Michelle Scott-Bennett, was knocked out with 26 percent.

A longtime family law attorney, Ahern, 53, had stressed her more than two decades practicing family law during her campaign, and she won the support of Landrieu and City Councilmembers Stacy Head, Susan Guidry and Jason Williams, along with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.

But it was Barial, 43, who scored with voters in her first campaign for public office, Barial emphasized her work under Bruno, who handled the domestic docket during his first three years at the court.

“Having worked on that docket, I saw all kinds of different people come through the court system, many of whom did not have representation,” she said in a recent interview. “You see the frustration on their faces and you hear it in their voices.”

Barial also has represented plaintiffs and defendants as an attorney in family court. Her endorsement roster included Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, City Councilman Jared Brossett, Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell and others.

Unlike Ahern, who announced her intention to run for the judgeship in 2012, Barial didn’t begin campaigning until early August because she was an employee of the court.

Ahern had spent more than twice as much as Barial as of the last reporting period, in mid-November.

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