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Jefferson Hughes

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Jefferson Hughes
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Court Information:
Louisiana Supreme Court
Title:   Judge
Position:   5th District
Salary:  $159,000
Active:   2013-2022
Preceded by:   Catherine D. Kimball
Past position:   Judge, First Circuit Court of Appeal
Past term:   2005-2012
Past position 2:   Judge, 21st Judicial District, Louisiana
Past term 2:   1990-2005
Personal History
Party:   Republican
Undergraduate:   Louisiana State University
Law School:   Louisiana State University Law School
Candidate 2012:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
State:  Louisiana
Election information 2012:
Incumbent:  No
Primary date:  November 6, 2012
Primary vote:  21.2%ApprovedA
Election date:  December 8, 2012
Election vote:  52.8%ApprovedA

Jefferson Hughes is a justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court. He was elected to the court in 2012 and his term expires in 2022.[1][2]


Hughes earned his BA in History at Louisiana State University. He earned his J.D. from Louisiana State University Law School, and was published by Louisiana Law Review.[1]




Hughes was elected to the seat of retiring Chief Justice Catherine Kimball on the Louisiana Supreme Court. He defeated John Guidry in the December 8, 2012 runoff with 52.8% of the vote. Hughes previously received 21.2% of the vote in the eight-way general election on November 6, 2012.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

See also: Louisiana judicial elections, 2012

Judge Hughes announces candidacy

2008 election

He challenged Democrat Catherine Kimball in the 2008 Louisiana Supreme Court elections for the Fifth District Seat on the seven-member Louisiana Supreme Court.[8][1]

Candidate IncumbentSeatPartyElection %
Catherine Kimball ApprovedA Yes5th DistrictDemocratic64.6%
Jeff Hughes No5th District35.3%

Election results are from the Louisiana Secretary of State from October 4, 2008 and November 4, 2008.

The Tulane Study

During an August 13, 2008 forum with the Baton Rouge Bar Association, each of the five Supreme Court candidates took a considerable amount of time debating the merits of a Tulane Law Review Study ("The Louisiana Supreme Court in Question: An Empirical and Statistical Study of the Effects of Campaign Money on the Judicial Function") that calls into question the role special interest monies play in Louisiana Supreme Court elections (and therefore rulings).

Other developments during the forum included candidate Jeff Hughes accusing sitting Justice Catherine Kimball, his opponent in the election, for being the court's most "activist judge." Justice Kimball responded by saying she was, "[V]ery proud of my, quote, ‘activist designation.'" Justice Kimball automatically became the court's Chief Justice, due to seniority.[9] Justice Kimball's financial statements can be found here (dead link).

Tulane study still used against Kimball

Jeff Hughes, Justice Kimball's opponent for the Louisiana Supreme Court, stood by using a study published by the Tulane Law Review to attack Kimball's judicial record. The study claims she was more influenced by campaign contributions than any other member of the court. Hughes said that the subsequent apologies issued by the University wouldn't "change my campaign one iota....[The apology letter issued by the dean of Tulane University’s School of Law]... [is] blah, blah, blah to me.”[10][11]

Notable cases

Court to keep alleged Katrina "mercy" killings sealed

Judge Jefferson Hughes was a part of a group of four 1st Circuit judges who voted to keep secret documents detailing the investigation into deaths at Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina. CNN and New Orleans' Times-Picayune advocated the public use of the files in order to determine whether then-Attorney General Charles Foti's view that a doctor and two nurses carried out mercy killings on four patients at Memorial in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In July 2006, Foti had Dr. Anna Pou and two nurses arrested and accused them of drugging to death four patients at Memorial. At the time of the alleged killings, the hospital was isolated and flooded.

It took nearly a year for a grand jury to not indict Dr. Pou; the charges against the nurses were dropped. After the criminal case ended, the news organizations filed public records requests to review investigative materials. Foti, who was defeated in his re-election bid last year, has supported release of the documents, which he says would vindicate his decision to arrest the doctor and nurses.

In September (2007), Donald Johnson, a state district judge in Baton Rouge, ordered the public release of nearly all the documents.

Attorneys for Memorial employees appealed Johnson's decision, saying it violated the privacy of people who willingly gave Foti's investigators interviews that they expected to remain confidential. State law shields from public view records pertaining to criminal litigation that is pending or "reasonably anticipated" until the case is over. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal decision, which is signed by four of the seven judges on the panel, said the files in the Memorial case do not become public -- even though there has been no investigative activity on the case since July -- because there is no statute of limitations on murder prosecutions.

Voting in the majority were 1st Circuit Judges Robert Downing, Jefferson Hughes, Randolph Parro and John Pettigrew. Judges John Guidry, Page McClendon and Jewel "Duke" Welch each dissented from the decision, providing separate reasons.[12]

Hughes Votes to Keep Candidates Out of Race

Judge Hughes voted alongside Judge John Guidry in a 2007 case that would have kept a number of candidates for Jefferson Parish sheriff off that year's ballot. The duo were outnumbered 3-2.[13]

Hughes Rules in Favor of Couple's Property Rights

Jefferson Hughes, along with fellow 1st Circuit Judge Robert Downing, ruled in favor of an elderly couple whose property had been confiscated by the state and sold at 2007 sheriff's tax sale. The property was on the auction block because of an unpaid property tax bill which totaled $1.63; the bill never reached the couple, and in the meantime was sold to a land company. Assessor Patricia Schwarz Core got the state Tax Commission to nullify the sale since the bill never reached them; however, after the initial sale, the property was resold and a notice of pending litigation was attached to the property, clouding ownership rights. The company retaliated, suing the Commission and the couple, but the state's decision was upheld first in May 2006 by state Judge Patricia Hedges, and then again in the 1st Court of Appeals by Hughes and Downing. "Hughes said it's 'uncontradicted' that the Atwoods 'did not receive notice of the tax sale due to an incorrect address, even though the correct address was readily ascertainable.'"

The two also said that "due process requires that the property owner be properly notified before property can be sold for taxes. If notice requirements are not followed, the sale is null and void. When a notice is returned unclaimed, the tax official cannot sit back and do nothing, but has a duty to notify the property owner. Failure to do so makes the tax sale null and void. [And a newspaper notice is] "not a reasonable means to send notice..."[14]

Hughes Sides With Detained Drive-Thru Customer

In the decision he wrote for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, Judge Hughes sided with plaintiff Alfred Kennedy III, a recent engineering graduate who was falsely detained on counterfeit charges at a Baton Rouge Jack in the Box restaurant.

Kennedy was arrested after he paid for meals for himself and four female students with a $100 Federal Reserve Note from 1974 — one his great-grandmother had mailed to him. Neither the workers at the restaurant on Dec. 7, 2001, nor the sheriff's deputies who answered their call recognized it as real money.

"'Old' currency is still legal tender of the United States," Judge Jefferson D. Hughes III wrote in the 3-0 decision for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal. "Citizens should not be at risk for spending legal tender."[15]

Hughes and his 1st Circuit cohorts ruled that District Judge William A. Morvant incorrectly dismissed the lawsuit which Kennedy brought against the chain in December 2003. No evidence was provided to show that the sheriffs who arrested Kennedy and the employees at Jack in the Box (who placed the call to police) had the knowledge needed to appropriately evaluate the bill.

See also

External links