Voter's Guide, 2020 Fall Elections, New Orleans
Position JUDGE -- JUVENILE COURT,Section F
NameNiki Roberts

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Site

Bio Information

Party AffiliationDemocrat
Present Employer / positionOrleans Parish District Attorney's Office/Chief of Juvenile Division
Length of residence in Jurisdiction45 years
List of educational institutions and degreesUniversity of New Orleans, BA in History with Minors in Africana Studies and English
Loyola University School of Law, JD
Prior elected and appointed positionsNone
Civic involvement and affiliationsVolunteer with Youth Ministry
Tutor college students in various subjects.
Louisiana State Bar Associations
National Black Prosecutor's Association

Questions specific to the position

1. What is your experience as an attorney in Juvenile Court? If you have had no experience practicing in Juvenile Court, please discuss any other experience that would qualify you for this position. I have worked in several sections of Juvenile Court as an Assistant District Attorney for many years. Responsibilities included screening cases upon arrest for prosecutorial merit and presenting those cases to the trial judge for prosecution. As Chief of the Juvenile Division of the District Attorney’s Office, I am responsible for supervising attorneys prosecuting child in need of care (CINC), families in need of services (FINS) and delinquency cases, I screen cases that have prosecutorial merit but make the determination that the youth and community are better served by diverting the case out of the court system. In addition to those duties, I handle the complex juvenile litigation cases. These experiences make me uniquely qualified to handle the intricacies to handle the specialized areas of juvenile law.
2. What rehabilitation and support programs do you support and are there any other programs you would initiate? In addition to current court operated programs, I want to create programs focusing on vocational education and mental health and to seek guidance and ideas from community organizations. Focusing on mental health deals with some of the root issues for our youth while vocational programs create opportunities to become self-sufficient and productive within the community. I believe that focusing on these two areas would create long term solutions to some of the problems currently facing our youth. I would work with community stakeholders. There are many programmatic resources within the community that simply are not being taken advantage of. These programs focus on mentoring both boys and girls and helping them with life skills and coping skills for conflict resolution. In addition to these programs I would also like to have the kids mentored in financial responsibility, teaching them about banking and how credit works. My goal is to teach our youth how to invest in themselves.
3. What changes will you advocate for to ensure that juvenile detention facilities have adequate resources and are sufficiently staffed? Both the juvenile detention facility which is operated by the City of New Orleans and the post adjudication facilities which are operated by the State of Louisiana are outside of direct judicial authority. However, as a Juvenile Court Judge it is within my authority to hold those agencies accountable for their failures to provide for the best interest of the child through contempt hearings. I believe that it is my duty to make sure that each child who is in a detention facility is receiving all necessary services including education, job training and mental health services to name a few. I have no qualms about holding any person or agency accountable for the failures to the children of our community. I have witnessed that use of contempt hearings to effectuate change in regards to facilities such as the now shuttered Tallulah facility.
4. What alternative sentencing measures would you implement during the pandemic to ensure the safety of convicted juveniles? There are limited cases involving crimes of violence where a juvenile judge is restricted to placing a child in custody but in most cases Juvenile Court judges have wide latitude in formulating sentences for children. With this in mind I would craft sentences within the community that are in the best interest of the child while still ensuring that the child has the appropriate services in place for them. This can be inclusive of mentoring, Zoom check ins and just ensuring that the child is not unnecessarily put in harm's way.
5. Have you ever been censored or disciplined? If yes, please explain. No.