Feature photo: Candidates for the 15th JDC Division B judge position. From left to right: Travis Broussard, Shytishia “SAM” Flugence and Valerie Gotch Garrett.
Three Lafayette lawyers are running for district court judge to take the place of Judge Jules Edwards III.
Travis Broussard, Valerie Garrett, and Shytishia Flugence are the candidates for Division B judge for the 15th Judicial District in Lafayette Parish.
District court judges make the decisions of civil and criminal law cases that focus primarily on felony and property related matters. They also handle appeals of criminal cases tried by city, municipal and traffic courts.
Six of the 11 judge positions are available this year. People can vote for 2 judges in each division.
The 15th Judicial District serves Acadia, Vermilion and Lafayette parishes.
Broussard has been an attorney for the past 10 years. He was a partner at the Lafayette law firm of Durio, McGoffin, Stagg and Ackerman and an Opelousas City Attorney for four years. Broussard was also a law professor at Southern University Law School.
Broussard said he made a name for himself as a leader in the legal community through his service, serving as president of the Young Lawyers Section of the Lafayette Bar Association (LBA). Broussard is also a member of the LBA Board of Directors, to name a few of his accomplishments in the community.
“I’m going to keep us safe, rehabilitate the offenders that we can and I’m going to stand between the community and the offenders we cannot rehabilitate as judge,” Broussard said.
As judge, Broussard said he promises to have an unwavering commitment to access to justice. He also said he promises to ensure access to justice to the courts by being available at all times.
“Too often in the judicial system the resolution you get is determined by how much money you have,” Broussard said.
Broussard said he plans to visit one community or school per month, to ensure people are not meeting judges for the first time in court, but in places more familiar to them.
Garrett, an attorney for the last 27 years, said she is an advocate for the increase of mental health court, sentence court, veterans court and continuation of the drug courts. She has been a criminal defense lawyer for the majority of her career and public defender for the 15th Judicial District.
Garrett said she made a reputation for herself by advocating for the people of Acadiana, especially children. Garrett said she received several Pro Bono Service Awards for her time spent helping those who cannot afford legal services.
“You have to be ready for [a position] like this because you’re interfering with people’s lives. You have to treat people with honor and respect,” Garrett said.
Garrett said she promises to educate the community about the judicial system and to stay engaged in the community. According to her, it is important that people understand the protocol when they come to court.
“I plan to stay accessible to the community and talk to young people about the consequences of their actions,” according to Garrett.
Flugence is a lawyer focusing on divorce, custody, child support, spousal support, criminal law and personal injury.
She was involved in several memberships such as the President Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Lafayette Bar Association and American Bar Association.
In 2019, Flugence received the Pro Bono Attorney and Businesswoman of the Year Awards.
According to her website, she plans to provide access to tools when individuals are self-representing, while also maintaining the drug court program and cooperation between all parties in criminal and civil matters.
Flugence was reached out to but did not respond for comment.