Parish judge elected VP of national association
Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal and former 16th Judicial District Judge John Conery. (Submitted Photo)
Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal and former 16th Judicial District Judge John Conery was elected vice-president of the American Judges Association at the organization’s September annual meeting.
“I feel humbled and honored to have been selected by my peers in an organization with members in the United States and Canada,” Conery said.
Conery said he has been a member of the association since 1995 and has served on its board of governors for eight year.
“The association is a great organization of judges … that teach and learn from each other on best practices in the judicial system,” Conery said.
The American Judges Association website said its goal is to promote and improve the effective administration of justice … to provide a forum for the continuing education of its members and the general public; and for the exchange of new ideas among all judges.” It said it has a membership exceeding 3,000 members.
Conery said that the judges share ideas and perspectives with each other that often lead to implementation of new programs. He gave drug treatment courts as an example.
Conery said former 16th Judicial District Judge William Hunter started one of the nation’s first drug courts. The web site of the district court said drug court began in 1997 in St. Mary Parish and the program expanded to Iberia Parish in April of 1998.
It subsequently spread too many other district courts in the state. Proponents point to the success of the courts and its becoming a national trend. Conery said that its expansion nationally was due in part to the sharing of ideas by judges at the association. He called Hunter’s program and advocacy of the drug court cutting edge.
The association puts out several publications each year and has several programs that judges participate in, he said. Conery is involved in elder abuse education throughout the U.S. with the association, he said.
“Louisiana judges are very active in the association,” Conery said. He pointed to James F. McKay III of the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans and 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Toni Higginbotham of Baton Rouge as two recent presidents of the association.
Conery said that while his work on the Court of Appeals is interesting and rewarding he misses the work and the people of the 16th Judicial District.
As an appeals court judge he does not get to have as much interplay with people, he said. The job is more about research and making deliberatively written opinions on decisions that become precedents, he said.
“It is a completely different pace and different type of work,” Conery said of his new judgeship. “It is a rather isolated existence.”
The work in district court affects a specific trial and limited individuals, he said. The appeals court does not hear evidence, but its role as a court of review makes it a precedent-setting body.
Conery said he worked as a lawyer in the 16th Judicial District for 25 years prior to becoming a judge in 1995.
In 2013, Judge Vincent J. Borne, a lifelong resident of Franklin, was elected for the 16th Judicial District, Division C, and took office on March 1. Prior to his election, Borne was an assistant district attorney for the 16th Judicial District from 1997 to 2013.
Anne L. Simon was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court as interim judge after Conery’s election to the Court of Appeal until Borne was seated.