William Dupont has traded in his gavel and black robe for fishing poles and leisurely hunting trips after 11 years of serving as a judge for the 18th Judicial District.
The 64-year-old Plaquemine man, a member of one of Iberville Parish’s most politically active families, retired from office on Halloween — five years before his term in office expires.
Dupont said Wednesday that after 40 years of public service, he’s ready to relax, spend more time with family and simply enjoy life.
“I’ll get to read the newspaper every morning with my dog sitting beside me and get to look down at him and ask, ‘What are we going to do today?’?” he said. “My years in public service kind of interrupted a lot of my private life. Guess I’ll get to do a little more hunting and fishing.”
The governor has set a special election for March 5 to select a successor to finish Dupont’s unexpired term in a district that includes West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and Iberville parishes.
Retired appellate court Judge Edward “Jimmy” Gaidry has been appointed by the state’s Supreme Court to preside over DuPont’s cases until his replacement is selected.
Before he was elected to the district court bench in September 2004, Dupont served as city judge in Plaquemine for 14 years. By special appointment of the Louisiana Supreme Court, he also served as judge pro tempore of the 18th JDC’s Juvenile Court from 2001 to 2002.
Since graduating law school at age 23 in 1975, Dupont has served as attorney for the city of Plaquemine, town of Fordoche and the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District.
The husband and father of two daughters has also served as chairman, vice chairman and board member of the Capital Area Human Services for District 1, where he says he assisted in obtaining substance abuse treatment on the west side of the Mississippi River.
In his retirement announcement, Dupont credits being a father and practicing law for 28 years at his family’s law firm with helping him gain a better understanding of the varied and complicated issues he faced in court as a judge.
“Some judges get the opinion they should just sit up in an ivory tower — that’s just not me,” he said. “Even when I was campaigning, I told folks I wanted to be the type of judge that would sit down and have a cup of coffee with anyone.”
Although he’s stepping down from the bench, Dupont said retirement won’t keep him off the campaign trail.
His nephew, Joseph B. Dupont Jr., has announced his candidacy for the special election. The qualifying period for the March 5 election will begin Dec. 2.
Dupont’s brother, James H. Dupont, served as parish assessor for more than 30 years. His brother, Joseph B. Dupont. Sr., was the first Plaquemine City Court judge — a position that his son, now running for the seat on district court, briefly held on appointment.
“He has been saying for years that when I left, he was going to give it a shot,” Dupont said of his nephew. “I’m proud of him. He has the experience so I’m going to get out there and help him.”
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter ,@tjonesreporter.