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JUDGE LAURIE WHITE: Can we clone her?

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New Orleans, Louisiana and Louisiana as a whole are beautiful places with unique people, wildlife, entertainment, and arguably the best food on the planet. We have beautiful people all of shapes, sizes and colors among us. What could go wrong you say? Well, that’s a loaded question. For as many beautiful souls and resilient people as we have among us, the state has also been home to lots of demons. Many of those demons have been put in charge of the criminal justice system, which has resulted in generations being destroyed when they did not have to be – by that, we mean had someone in a position to help, actually done so, many lives could have been positively affected. But guess what? Louisiana actually has had a few good people who understand the unique problems affecting the area and who have had the power to effect change.

Meet Chief Judge Laurie White, a New Orleans original who has been just that sort of change. She’s worn many hats that include being a criminal defense attorney, prosecutor and now Judge. Judge White understands the unique challenges that affect the disenfranchised. She’s been affectionately deemed the “Hip Hop Judge” because of her close connection to the streets of New Orleans and that’s a good thing. She’s gained support from local and national Hip Hop stars, as well as several famous actors. Among those are Clifton Powell, Jason Mitchell, Mario P, Rude Jude, Blip Da Flyermann, and so many more. And it’s no wonder – she isn’t your average judge. She’s personable, helpful and most important, the real deal when it comes to caring about her community. She’s what we need.

In 2010, Judge White founded Louisiana’s Re-Entry Program, a program in the state prisons that gives those incarcerated a chance to re-enter society and actually be successful in staying out of trouble and becoming a productive citizen who can in turn, give back. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world. That’s right – in the world – and only a fool would believe that those who are incarcerated won’t be released one day. And when they are released, they must have some viable options to get on their feet and stay that way. Without a program that assists with that, it’s impossible. Some like it that way obviously, but not Judge White. She cares about people and in and a city like New Orleans and a state like Louisiana, it is so needed. Can we clone her? No, we can’t, but the next best thing we can do is make sure she is able to serve on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, where she can continue making a difference and giving deserving people a second chance.

We’ve had a chance to be embedded with the judge several times recently and it honestly was what we describe as amazing. You don’t normally see a judge loved by some of the same people who came through her courtroom – but that’s exactly what we’ve seen, numerous times. And it’s refreshing. That’s when you know you’re seeing a person truly making a positive difference! We had a chance to have a Q&A with Judge White and here’s what we learned:

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: What led you to a career as an attorney?

JUDGE LAURIE WHITE: I watched a lot of Perry Mason on TV as a kid after school in the 1960’s it was the first lawyer show and I liked the way he helped people. How humble he was and how he beat the prosecutor Ham Burger every show! I wanted to be a better prosecutor than Ham Burger!

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: Everywhere you go, people just love seeing and interacting with you. Why do you think you were built to be an attorney who effects change in a system where we most often see nothing but negativity and poor outcomes? What created that drive within you to be different from many of your counterparts?

JUDGE LAURIE WHITE: Even though my job is to Judge cases and issues and the law; away from the court, I don’t automatically judge people. I am very open to different people I meet and I like to make a decision about the person once I talk to them and learn more about them. I don’t jump to conclusions on just appearance or allow my internal biases to affect my thoughts before I know more and can make a decision about the type of person someone is or what their story says about them. I have a lot of compassion for others and my empathy keeps me open and receptive to all types of people.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: As an attorney and especially as a judge, you not only are able to gain unique insight into the inner workings of the law, our judicial system and politics, but you also encounter many different types of individuals, often in less than positive situations. How have you been able to positively impact the lives of those you encounter in your chosen career path?

JUDGE LAURIE WHITE: Well I sure hope I have been a positive encounter in many people’s lives. You never really know what effect you have had unless people tell you. In this time that I have been running for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal I have heard from so many people that tell me how our interaction has affected them in a good way. That has really been the most heart-warming part of campaigning. I never realized what small kindness’ from a person in authority or showing concern or care can lift someone up for their good. How sentences that I have meted out which include jail and the words I have used in the interaction with someone can make a personal connection and give hope and inspire people to try again to do things differently.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: We love to hear success stories and need those if for nothing else other than to lift morale. What is your favorite success story as a judge in Orleans Parish?

JUDGE LAURIE WHITE: I actually have a lot of success stories but no favorite one. Each success is a gift and a blessing for the community, family, me and them. Every time someone shares a success story with me after they have come in contact with the justice system or a criminal sentence and they tell me how great they have done since that time .….then that is a successful outcome. It’s not my success for what I did, but what the person on the other end of what I did has now done to find success. Whether big or small.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: There are so many children who can be classified as “lost” right here in Louisiana. What do you hope to be able to do in order to help move them in the right direction?

JUDGE LAURIE WHITE: Make the criminal justice system fair to everyone by maintaining my independence and sense of integrity and fearless warrior nature to fight for what is right. Not being a sell out for what is best for me but for the good of others because that is what elected servants are supposed to do. When I don’t want to do that or can’t do it anymore….I’ll quit being an elected official.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: As a judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, how can you positively impact the lives of those with whom you will be working and those for whom you will be reviewing appeals?

JUDGE LAURIE WHITE: As a Judge on the Court of Appeal with criminal law experience I can educate that bench on the specific issues that arise before that court from the criminal court in Orleans and other issues arising that I am an expert in provide deeper insight.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We endorse and support Chief Judge Laurie White, #71 on the ballot. We encourage each of you to do your homework and ask around the community. When you have ex-offenders seek this lady out of a crowd at a music awards show so they can hug her and tell her how she saved them, that speaks volumes. We saw this in person and also see and hear the support she has from the community. We also know her to be honest and forthright and we personally have seen the difference she makes. Vote Laurie White for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal. We need more Judge Whites, but since we can’t clone her, voting her into office is the next best thing. Lead by example, we always say, and Judge White has and will continue to do just that! Visit JudgeLaurieWhite.com for more information.

Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chief
Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chiefhttp://www.mikodreamz.com
Vice-President & Asst. Editor-in-Chief of The Heat Magazine, Arlene is a Louisiana native, Certified Paralegal, Publicist, Owner of MIKODreamz PR, co-owner of 504Diffusion, writer, producer, and jack of all trades, who is heavily involved in her community as well as serving as Media Advisor for New Orleans Union for Entertainment (NOUE), Member of the NOLA Music Awards from 2012-present & Member of the Press Club of New Orleans. Her work is published across the web. Her PR work has been highly recognized & awarded. She was/is publicist for the late great BTY YoungN, 0017th and more. She is also working on her first novel & aspires to turn it into a film & is currently writing the authorized biography of the legendary Pimp C of UGK. She can be reached via email at Arlene@theheatmag.com. Follow her on Twitter - @CategorySeven & Instagram - @hurricanearlene.
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