Meghan Garvey launched her legal career in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Orleans Parish Public Defender’s office, representing individuals jailed because of a lack of access to courts after the storm, she says.
She wants to become judge of Municipal Court to continuing fighting for reform and justice.
Garvey offers a three-pronged platform to reach that goal, promising compassion, transparency and efficiency. In the area of compassion, Garvey hopes to address the fines, bail and fees that she calls excessive and that have a disproportionate impact on poor, mostly Black citizens.
When it comes to efficiency, the attorney wants to cleanup the backlog of cases and old warrants that she believes are hurting and hindering residents.
“I believe our municipal court needs an overhaul,” Garvey says. “Right now, we have two open cases for every man, women and child in New Orleans. “Seven hundred and thirty-nine thousand something cases. I am going to take a close look at those.”
Garvey says while she will exercise her authority to dismiss some cases, such as those that are outside of the statues of limitations, she would give prosecutors the chance to argue the merits of others.
She also plans to examine new ways to make the court more accessible and user friendly to those who must be there—looking and an array of ideas from childcare to satellite courts in New Orleans East and Algiers.
“I think there are things we could put in place for to make it easier for people,” she says.
A graduate of Tulane Law School, Garvey has served as the Office of the Public Defender’s liaison to Mental Health Court.
A graduate of Tulane University and Loyola University School of Law, Judge Paul Sens was first elected to Municipal Court in 1997. He says he wants to continue the progress he has made.
Among that progress, Sens touts Homeless Court, which provides access to essential services for homeless citizens appearing in municipal court.
Sens also points to his push to get the court fully-funded so that it would not have to rely of defendant’s fees and fine for its operation.
He says he brings experience, compassion, leadership, integrity to be bench and wants to continue serving the people of New Orleans.
Sens is a former staff attorney with the public defender’s office who also garnered 19 years in private practice before becoming a municipal court judge.