19th Judicial District Judge William Morvant

William Morvant, who shares the distinction with one of his 19th Judicial District Court colleagues as the longest-tenured judge on the Baton Rouge state court, has made the difficult decision to retire at the end of the year.

Morvant, who turned 65 this month, has served on the 19th JDC bench since January 1997 and was elected without opposition to another six-year term just over a year ago in the fall of 2020.

The Thibodaux native and longtime Baton Rouge resident said Tuesday he initially had every intention of serving as much of that term as possible, but noticed recently that he was "bringing the courthouse home" — or taking his job home — and even his family noticed there was a change in his mood.

"That was a sign. I owe them more," he said during a candid interview in his downtown courthouse office. "This is a decision that, as selfish as it may sound, is better for my family and me."

Morvant explained that turning in his retirement papers this month "was not an easy decision on my part" but said he will leave the bench with no regrets.

"It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve on this court for 25 years. It's an honor I didn't take lightly," he said. "I've had the most rewarding career that anybody could ask for."

Morvant spent his first six years on the 19th JDC presiding over the court's drug court. He then moved to the civil bench and has had a civil docket ever since. He was re-elected four times without opposition.

Morvant, who has four granddaughters, said his immediate plans after retirement are to spend more time with his wife and children and grandchildren.

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Morvant said the sudden death in February 2020 of a brother who was one year older than him at the time played a role in his decision to hang up his judicial robe.

"You don't know what tomorrow's going to bring," he said.

Morvant said he's had the privilege of serving with some outstanding judges, and has been blessed with great staffs and incredible law clerks who made his job much easier.

Morvant said he probably will continue to serve as an LSU adjunct law professor and stay involved in the legal profession in other ways.

"I'm not going to totally retire. I'm going to have things to occupy my time," he said.

Morvant said he expects that a special election to fill his unexpired term could be held as early as mid-March. After he retires, the Louisiana Supreme Court will appoint an ad hoc judge to temporarily fill his seat until his successor is elected.

Judge Tim Kelley, who sits on the 15-judge 19th JDC with Morvant, also took office in January 1997.  

Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.