Juvenile Court judges push for move to downtown Baton Rouge courthouse, claim safety is a concern at current building _lowres (copy)

The 19th Judicial District Courthouse is located on North Blvd. in downtown Baton Rouge. 

The 19th Judicial District Court seat that longtime Judge Janice Clark must relinquish at the end of the year because of her age drew two candidates Wednesday on the first of three days of qualifying for the Nov. 3 election.

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Will Jorden and Baton Rouge lawyer Dele Adebamiji, both Democrats, qualified for the Division D seat that Clark will continue to hold until Dec. 31.

Clark, 73, is the 19th JDC's longest-serving judge, having at on the court since October 1992. She had hoped to qualify this week for another six-year term.

However, the Louisiana Supreme Court late Tuesday rejected Clark's and another judge's requests to do away with a mandatory retirement rule for all judges that prohibits them from seeking re-election after they turn 70.

Judges are allowed to stay on the bench if they turn 70 during one of their terms, but cannot run for another term after turning 70.

Clark, of Baton Rouge, and New Orleans Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell, 72, had challenged the age requirements in separate lawsuits.

The 19th Judicial District Court's second-longest serving judge, Bonnie Jackson, also won't be seeking re-election this fall. Former 19th JDC Commissioner Quintillis Lawrence, a defense lawyer, qualified for the Division K seat on Wednesday. He is a Democrat.

Jackson has served on the 19th JDC bench since November 1992.

Richard Anderson, a Republican who has been on the court since 1997, is the only incumbent 19th JDC judge to draw a challenger Wednesday. Christopher Dassau, a Democrat, qualified for the Division G seat that Anderson currently holds. Dassau has a private law practice and also has served as the city prosecutor for Baker since 2012.

The 19th JDC incumbent judges qualifying for re-election included Anderson, Tim Kelley, William Morvant, Wilson Fields, Trudy White, Beau Higginbotham, Fred Crifasi, Kelly Balfour, Tarvald Smith and Ron Johnson.

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