A city court judge and a Metro Council member are among those expressing strong interest in a 19th Judicial District Court seat that will soon be up for grabs.

Baton Rouge City Court Judge Tarvald Smith and East Baton Rouge Metro Council member Trae Welch said they are definitely considering a run for the seat that retiring state District Judge Todd Hernandez will vacate at the end of March.

East Baton Rouge Parish assistant public defender Lyn Legier and Baton Rouge lawyer Jennifer Moisant also said they are exploring the possibility of throwing their hats in the ring.

No date has been set for the special election that will have to be called to fill Hernandez's term, which does not expire until the end of 2020. It is expected that the special election will be placed on the Oct. 12 ballot, which also includes the governor's race.

Smith, elected to City Court in the fall of 2015, is a former public defender and prosecutor who served on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board for 11 years.

He is 49 and a Democrat.

Welch, a city prosecutor in Zachary and former Baker city councilman, has served on the Metro Council since 2009. He also sits on the Greater Baton Rouge Airport Commission, and has been a lawyer for 15 years.

Welch, 46, is a Republican and the son of former Metro Councilwoman Roxson Welch and former 19th JDC Judge and current state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jewel "Duke" Welch.

Legier, 51, is a Democrat and has been with the public defenders office for the past 17 years. She has been practicing law since 1999.

Moisant, 46, also is a Democrat and works at the law firm of Balfour Emonet. She has been a lawyer for 15 years and currently chairs the board of the Greater Baton Rouge Council on Aging.

Smith, who would not have to give up his City Court seat to run for District Court, noted that he once worked as a misdemeanor prosecutor in the 19th JDC.

"It would be nice to go home," he said Wednesday, adding that he is enjoying his work on the City Court bench.

Smith said he is "seriously considering" a run for the District Court seat about to open up and would bring a "wealth of experience" to that court.

Welch ran against longtime 19th JDC Judge Mike Erwin in 2014 but lost. He said a position on the District Court bench would allow him to continue his public service.

"I wouldn't have run last time if I didn't think it was important. It's still just as important," he said Thursday, adding that he's "gearing up and ready to go."

Legier said she is weighing her options and still considering a potential run for Hernandez's seat.

She considers her courtroom experience a "big plus."

"I've been working in the courtroom for 17 years day in and day out," Legier said.

Moisant, who primarily has a family and civil law practice, said she, too, is keeping her options open when it comes to possibly running for the 19th JDC this year.

"It's something I've always thought about as on option for me," she said, adding that she is interested in criminal justice reform.

The judicial subdistrict from which Hernandez was re-elected in 2014 encompasses Baker, Zachary and Central and some areas in Baton Rouge, including parts of Broadmoor and Sherwood Forest.


Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.