|Voter's Guide, 2020 Fall Elections, Louisiana
|Position ||Appeals Court Judges: 1st Circuit, 2nd Dist., Subdist. 1, Div. A |
|Name||Melanie Newkome Jones|
|Present Employer / position||Melanie Newkome Jones, APLC|
|Length of residence in Jurisdiction||52 years|
|List of educational institutions and degrees||LSU- B.A. in Broadcast Journalism, minor in Sociology|
LSU Law School- Juris Doctor
|Prior elected and appointed positions||Past President, Baton Rouge Association of Women Attorneys|
Past Chair, Family Law Section, Baton Rouge Bar Association
Elected Board Member at Large, Baton Rouge Bar Association, six years
Current Secretary, Baton Rouge Bar Association
|Civic involvement and affiliations||Baton Rouge Bar Association Board of Directors, current Secretary|
Board Member, Legal Specialization of Family Law Specialists, Louisiana State Bar Association
Board Member, Friends of the Animals (non-profit dog adoption organization)
Panel Member, Pro Bono Committee, Baton Rouge Bar Association
Past Chair and Member, Family Law Section, Baton Rouge Bar Association
Questions specific to the position
|1. Describe your appellate practice trial experience as an attorney.
||I have experience in both the circuit courts of appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court. I have appealed or responded to appeals in numerous Family Law cases and civil cases in the First Circuit and Supreme Court. I also served as the first director of the First Circuit Court of Appeal Pilot Mediation Program.|
|2. Describe your experience researching, analyzing and writing judicial opinions.
||I have vast experience writing briefs for trials, exceptions, motions and appeals. Much of the writing that I do requires extensive legal research and analyzing the cases and statutes and applying them to the facts of the cases. I have been writing pleadings and briefs for over thirty years. |
| 3. In a June 8th letter, Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Johnson acknowledged "the part we each play in maintaining a system that leaves many of our fellow citizens, especially our African American citizens, feeling that they cannot breathe." Do you agree that the Louisiana criminal justice system disproportionately impacts African Americans? In your role reviewing cases, what can you, as an Appeals Court Judge, do to address this situation?"
||Statistics do show that African-Americans are disproportionately impacted in the criminal justice system. I believe that the Court of Appeal is in a unique position to review the transcripts and evidence from lower courts completely on the sterile record. It allows the appellate judges to look solely on the testimony and the evidence without any potential bias. The facts and the law are reviewed on their own merit. If the law when applied to the underlying facts of the case indicate that there was prejudice, the appellate court can remedy that in its decision. I do believe that the Court of Appeal judges need to be aware of underlying prejudice and seek to correct this when identified.|
|4. What are your views as a judicial candidate about streamlining procedures and preventing lawsuit abuse, while also ensuring access to the courts, particularly for lower income and indigent parties?
||I do believe that the courts could develop procedures in place to provide resolution to cases in a more expedited fashion. Law suit abuse is an issue for the Legislature; however, if a person files a frivolous lawsuit, the lower court should dismiss it, but if it is not disposed of there, it could be overruled at the appellate court level. I believe that all persons should have access to justice. We have various groups, particularly the Bar Associations, that provide assistance to indigent parties. I am very active in the Pro Bono Project through the Baton Rouge Bar Association, providing over 1000 hours of services to indigent persons. I think that all attorneys should give back to society by volunteering to service the persons to whom justice is limited due to their lack of resources.|