With current Clerk of Criminal District Court Arthur Morrell retiring, the seat is open and has attracted both clerks of City Court. Austin Badon serves as clerk of First City Court, while Darren Lombard serves as clerk of Second City Court. Both believe they have the tools needed to lead and improve operations at Criminal District Court. In addition to managing the non-judicial functions of Criminal District Court, Orleans Parish’s clerk of Criminal District Court also serves as the parish’s chief elections officer.
As a clerk the First City Clerk, Austin Badon says the three years he has spent revamping, remodeling and modernizing the office has provided him with the experience needed to become Orleans Parish next clerk of criminal District Court.
Badon is also a former member of the Louisiana legislature; and says he is running for this office to “continue his strong legacy of public service.”
“This is a position that needs work and needs help,” says Badon. “This office is a servant of the public and we want to make sure that we provide good customer service in a friendly, efficient environment. I will lead by example.”
Since becoming the clerk of First City Court, Badon says he has expended tremendous effort in revamping that office to make it safer and more efficient.
“In the past, we would send those files across the river to a storage location. We are not doing that any more. We are keeping files on site, and what that does is cut down on the time it takes to find files when they are needed,” Badon, says, adding that the office also saves money by not having to pay that storage contract.
Badon says that if elected, he would work to improve evidence storage at the court. He wants to move the evidence room from the ground floor, he says, and add cameras as an extra level of security. He also plans to update the technology and the computer system used at the office.
The candidate also says that if elected he will assign a staff member to specifically assist members of the public with the expungement process.
When it comes to the role as the chief elections officer for Orleans Parish, Badon says gone are the days of late reporting of election results from New Orleans to the Secretary of State’s office.
“We need to do better and we can do better by using best practices and modern technology,” he says, adding that he would implement a system that allows the Clerk of Criminal District Court to deliver result election data in real time.
Badon is a graduate of St. Augustine High School and the University of New Orleans. He also earned a master’s degree in human resource development from Troy State University.
Though he currently serves as the clerk of Second City Court, Darren Lombard says that it’s his time as the deputy clerk of Criminal District Court under the current court clerk Arthur Morrell that prepares him for the seat he now seeks.
Lombard served for six years as the coordinator of elections and the coordinator of emergency preparedness for Orleans Parish Criminal District Court before his election to second city court.
“It’s a natural progression for me,” says Lombard. “I already spent six years there, where I was coordinating elections for Mr. Morrell. I still work elections. Currently, I am on the Board of Elections Supervisors for the Governor’s office. We have similar jobs as clerks of First and Second City Court. The thing that sets me apart is this experience.”
Lombard has served in his current role at Second City Court for more than eight years.
“I have spent a lot of time doing the work of the people as an elected official,” he says. “I didn’t just show up yesterday. I have spent a lot of time doing this.”
Much like his opponent, Lombard says that he has worked hard to make Second City Court Clerk’s Office more efficient and customer-service oriented since being elected to the position.
“Since taking office back in 2013, we immediately became more proactive with the people who come in to file cases. Most of the litigants in city courts are there for evictions, small claims and small civil cases, and they appear without lawyers. Most of the people that come through there, don’t have any idea what they are walking into. They are intimidated by the process. So we make sure they are comfortable and that they understand as much as possible before they end up in the courtroom in front of the judge.”
Lombard also says he worked to modernize the technology used in Second City Clerk. And both of these tactics are strategies he will employ if elected as the next clerk of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
A graduate of the University of New Orleans, Lombard has been active throughout the community including serving as a mentor with the Silverback Society, as well as a an executive board member for the Algiers Political Action Committee. He has served as the chairman of the Orleans Parish Democratic executive committee (OPDEC). He is still a member of OPDEC and also serves on the Louisiana State Central Democratic Committee and the board of election supervisors.