The judicial shuffle is on as several local judges are now eyeing a pair of soon-to-be-vacant seats on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. As we reported last week, two appellate judges will retire at the end of their current terms — Chief Judge Joan Bernard Armstrong and Judge Patricia Murray. Civil Court Judge Rose Ledet already has announced for Armstrong's seat, and thus far no one has made noises about running against her.

  Meanwhile, Civil Court Judge Madeleine Landrieu says she will run for Murray's seat — but several other judges reportedly are looking at that seat as well. They include Landrieu's fellow Civil Court Judges Robyn Giarrusso and Herbert Cade as well as Municipal Court Judge Paul Sens. Also, some expect former Civil Court Judge Nadine Ramsey, who resigned her seat to run for mayor, to take a close look at the appellate court seats or one of the potentially available seats at Civil Court.

  One unusual aspect of the appellate court races is, while the elections will be held in the fall of this year, the winners won't take office until at least 14 months later — in January 2012. Many say that delay will discourage attorneys from running against a sitting judge for two reasons. First, an incumbent judge will continue to sit in his or her present court for more than a year after the election; and second, an attorney who wins will have a tough time earning a living because so many potential clients will want to hire lawyers who can work for them long term — and not wind up being conflicted out of a case as a judge fairly soon. — Clancy DuBos