The race for Criminal District Court Section D has indeed been one of the most eventful and interesting, with everything from legal challenges to incumbent Judge Frank Marullo’s eligibility to run based on his age to the controversial audio taped conversation between Marullo and candidate Marie Williams. Williams says that in the tape Marullo offers her his support for a job as a magistrate commissioner if she withdrew from the race. Marullo says he could not and did not make any such promise. He called the incident, which is being reviewed by the FBI, a “set up” for which he did not “fall.” Williams says she had no intention of dropping out of the race, and only wanted to expose what she believes was an illicit overture. Meanwhile, Marullo calls the age challenge against him “discrimination” that he “fought all the way to the state Supreme Court and won.” And while the 74-year-old Marullo is OK to run for the seat, he will turn 75 (the age at which judges are to retire) before he is sworn into a new term–a fact that has led some to question whether Marullo would be able to take his seat on the bench even if he is re-elected.

Graham Bosworth

Graham Bosworth

A political newcomer, Graham Bosworth says he is the best candidate to bring much-needed change to criminal court, having 10 years of experience as both an assistant district attorney and as a criminal defense attorney in private practice.

If elected, Bosworth says he will modernize his courtroom by providing a way for attorneys to file motions electronically; and he would make certain his section ran effectively and efficiently by making a public calendar available and creating a slotted docket.

“It’s not difficult to take basic steps to get the ball rolling,” he says. “Judges don’t need to wait for that to happen.”

Still, Bosworth says he has no plans to rush through court proceedings just to save time.

“Each case is unique, and rushing a case through the system is a disservice to justice,” he says. “But when a hearing or trial date is set, it needs to be meaningful.”

If elected, Bosworth says he hopes to work with the district attorney’s office to encourage more use of diversion programs for non-violent offenders. He says the criminal justice system will remain dysfunctional so long as the focus is responding after a crime is committed and limiting that response to punishment.

Bosworth says he plans to use his platform as a judge to engage the community in a dialogue on issues dealing with the criminal justice system, such as mandatory minimums “so the community can realize what’s going on and put pressure on the legislature to make changes,”

Frank Marullo

Frank Marullo

Judge Frank Marullo says he loves being a judge because he can “help people who need help.”  Marullo takes credit for securing grants and initiating programs such as drug court and intensive probation in the New Orleans criminal justice system as alternatives for nonviolent offenders, particularly those whose crimes stem from chemical or substance abuse addictions.

Marullo worked as a longshoreman and a high school teacher to pay law school tuition and has served on the bench for 40 years. His time on the bench along with his other experiences serve him well, giving him insight into the challenges people face every day, he says.

More than anything, Marullo says he wants another term to continue important work in the criminal justice arena.

“I have been there and I want to stay there another six years,” he says.

And if re-elected, Marullo says he wants to work to transform some of the state’s mandatory sentencing guidelines, especially for non-violent offenders, while also ensuring that the most violent criminals are off of the streets.

“Lions and tigers got to go to jail,” Marullo says. “Rabbits and turtles have to be handled differently. We should be taking these people and correcting them and educating them. I believe in treating people and trying to correct problems; but people cannot be in society trying to hurt others.”

Marullo’s view of crime and punishment has not changed even after having been a crime victim when he was carjacked and robbed by five people, including a 16-year-old male, in front of his home in May 2013.
Marullo says he never saw a gun. And when the suspects demanded his belongings, he gave up his wallet and car keys.

“They never hurt me,” he says. “They took my wallet, but they were kids. I don’t know what made them do that, but if you just put them in jail, you are just putting off the problem until another day.”

Marie Williams

Attorney and New Orleans native Marie Williams is making a third run for judicial office, including unsuccessful bids for Juvenile Court and Second City Court. Williams says Criminal District Court needs order and structure and a judge that will take control right away, adding that she believes she has the experience to do just that.

In addition to work in private practice and as a legal aid attorney, she has served as an administrative law judge and has worked for several law firms, with experience at both the trial and appellate levels in criminal, civil, federal and municipal court.

Williams promises to bring organization to the courtroom if elected with plans to use a staggered docket to help manage the case load more efficiently.

The attorney says it’s time for new blood at criminal district court

“It’s a new day and a new time,” she says. “And I am running to make a change and make a difference in criminal court.”

She also pledges to improve and work with specialty courts to keep non-violent offenders out of jail while getting them the help and the services they need to become more productive citizens.

Williams also touts her volunteer record as an attorney and law student, including the Pro Bono Project, the Loyola Post-Conviction Defender’s Organization as well as a number of other civic and community organizations.

“We need judges who care about people and care about educating the public,” she says. “I’ve always been a person who believed in helping (those who need help). Then we can really deal with the murderers, the rapists, the child molesters—the more serious offenses that need to be handled where people need to get time so that the community is safer.”

The New Orleans Tribune

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