State District Judge Tony Marabella, of Baton Rouge, celebrated his 71st birthday Wednesday by delivering his retirement letter to the Secretary of State's Office.
Marabella, who became a 19th Judicial District Court judge in December 2003, plans to retire May 1. His term does not expire until Dec. 31, 2020. He would not have been eligible to run again then because of his age.
The earliest that a special election to fill Marabella's unexpired term can be held is March 24, when municipal elections are already scheduled. A runoff, if needed, would be April 28.
Marabella, in an interview in his office Thursday, said he has been involved in the legal profession for 45 years and is ready to slow down.
"At 71 years old, I just don't think I want to do this full time anymore," he said. "If I could be a judge for one day a week, I'd do it forever."
Marabella is a former prosecutor, public defender and criminal defense lawyer. His law partners included former East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Bryan Bush, current District Attorney Hillar Moore III, John DiGiulio and Fred Crifasi
Marabella, who was re-elected twice without opposition, has presided over the 19th JDC adult drug court program for the past 14 years in addition to his daily duties on the bench, and said he will miss the drug court most of all. The program, which is essentially a pretrial intervention program for nonviolent drug offenders, has what Marabella called a tremendously low recidivism rate among graduates. The program, he said, gives participants the tools to "get them back on track."
"The most accomplishment I've ever had as a judge is the drug court," the judge said. "You see some success stories there. You don't see many in the criminal arena."
Marabella stressed that he doesn't plan on "riding off into the sunset and sitting on my porch." He intends to stay active with the Louisiana District Judges Association, where he sits on the executive committee, and offer his services as an ad hoc judge. He also wants to stay involved in some capacity with the drug court.
And what about hobbies?
"I will definitely golf," he said.
Marabella said he will miss his staff, which he described as family, and his judicial colleagues. And even though he loved practicing law, he doesn't see himself returning to private practice.
But, "You never say never."