Voters in East Baton Rouge Parish selected two judges Saturday, one for the appellate court and another for the state district court.

1st Circuit Court of Appeal

Republican Christopher Hester won a spot on the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, winning 52% of the vote after finishing second in the Nov. 3 primary. 

Hester, 37, defeated Democrat Melanie Newkome Jones, 57, by a margin of 4,891 votes. She had 46% of the vote in the primary against two Republican candidates.

Hester replaces retiring 1st Circuit Judge Toni Higginbotham, 74, a Republican from Baton Rouge whose term expires Dec. 31. She has held the 2nd District, Subdistrict 1, Division A seat since 2010.

During the campaign, Jones touted her nearly three decades of civil law experience and extensive appellate practice and argued she was the most qualified candidate in the race.

Hester, a former East Baton Rouge Parish assistant district attorney and the son of the late 19th Judicial District Judge Bob Hester, said he has spent his entire legal career in the courtroom and claimed he had the "right experience" to sit on the appeals court. He has served on City Court since January 2019.

19th Judicial District, Division K

Eboni Johnson-Rose won a seat on the 15-judge bench at the 19th Judicial District Court with 64% of the vote, according to complete but unofficial election results.

Johnson-Rose, 42, who is the daughter and niece of twin 19th Judicial District Court Judges Ron and Don Johnson, respectively, faced fellow Democrat and lawyer Quintillis Lawrence, 47, for the seat. Lawrence is a former commissioner for the court.

Johnson-Rose will replace retiring 19th Judicial District Judge Bonnie Jackson, who has held the Division K seat since 1992. Her current six-year term expires at the end of the year.

Johnson-Rose, a lawyer since 2005 who has served for the past decade as a trial attorney for several state agencies, nearly won last month's primary outright, receiving 49% of the vote, just shy of the 50% threshold necessary to avoid a runoff.

Her campaign platform included alternative sentences to incarceration for nonviolent offenses, and advocating for a domestic violence court at the 19th Judicial District Court.

Lawrence, a judge advocate general officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, a former East Baton Rouge Parish assistant public defender and ex-Orleans Parish prosecutor, touted his qualifications for judge during the campaign.

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