Judge Clare Jupiter

Judge Clare Jupiter

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Clare Jupiter, who took a leave of absence about four months ago to battle an undisclosed illness, died Friday. She was 65.

Jupiter first claimed her Division E seat in 2011, winning an election held after Madeline Landrieu left that post to join the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. It was Jupiter's first run for elected office. 

The longtime Democrat then won a second term unopposed in 2014. The term doesn’t expire until the end of 2020, and a special election will need to be held for voters to determine who will complete it.

A little more than three years ago, Jupiter suffered what one source described as a heart attack in her chambers.

She recovered and returned to work, but she fell ill again in January. Retired Jefferson Parish Judge Melvin Zeno received an appointment to temporarily fill in for Jupiter and has been handling her duties at the Loyola Avenue courthouse ever since. 

Jupiter was born in Chicago and raised in New Orleans. Before she became a judge, she was perhaps best known as a private attorney representing the Orleans Parish School Board.

She earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University and her law degree from Duke University. 

Jupiter was married and had two children. Her survivors include her brother, New Orleans Traffic Court Judge Steven Jupiter.

A wake for Jupiter is set for Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at D.W. Rhodes Funeral Home. Her funeral is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Friday at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, with visitation set to start at 9 a.m. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.