Cantrell argues experience in bid for Magistrate Court
7th October 2013 · 0 Comments
By Christopher Tidmore
Each of the candidates running to replace Gerald Hansen in the October 19th election cites experience as a reason to vote for him for Magistrate Court, but Harry Cantrell goes further. He boasts of a longest tenure before that bench as his unique qualification. “My 14 years of experience as Criminal Court Magistrate Commissioner, in a part-time capacity, uniquely qualifies me for this position, and I seek the opportunity to serve in a full-time capacity as Criminal Court Magistrate Judge.”
“The Magistrate Judge is responsible for setting bonds, approving arrest and search warrants, conducting misdemeanor trials and preliminary hearings, conducting out of state warrant hearings, and imposing penalties on probation violators,” Cantrell continued. “Serving as Magistrate Judge will allow me to serve and protect the community by keeping dangerous criminals off the streets, while at the same time providing help to those who can avoid criminal activity in the future by referring them to appropriate programs.”
Cantrell runs on three principal three campaign planks. “I will enhance the therapeutic programs of the court that allow offenders to participate in treatment programs in lieu of incarceration or as part of probation, such as Substance Abuse Court, Domestic Violence Court and Mental Health Court. I will provide more program opportunities for non-violent first offenders to keep them from coming before the court a second time, and expand gun buy-back and other crime prevention programs. [And,] I will insure that decisions of the Magistrate Court provide the correct balance of what is fair to the defendant while protecting the community.”
He sees the biggest problem at Magistrate Court right now as it “does not have enough resources to provide Therapeutic Court services for those who need help with substance abuse, mental health and other problems.
“Expanded therapeutic programs would prevent more people from committing acts that will bring them before the court again,” Cantrell added. He also agreed with the CDC judges that there needs to be a new courthouse, but the Magistrate candidate refused to get in the middle of the battle over whether to move City Hall and the CDC to Big Charity Hospital. “There is definitely a need to improve and modernize the court facilities,” he said. “However, I believe that the Civil District Court Judges best understand the needs for their courtrooms and I would defer to their opinions about whether or not Charity Hospital would meet their requirements.”
As to whether a candidate for Judge should have to practice at least 12 years, and whether Cantrell would support legislative action to that end, he stated, “Before supporting a change to the current 6 years of experience required, I want to see data that shows a correlation between additional years of experience and better judicial decisions.”
He also declared that “the current retirement age should remain in place” for Judges, despite some candidates for the bench calling for its abolition.
Concluding, Harry Cantrell observed, “My parents instilled in me the moral values to always do what is right, and that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with respect. Those values motivated me to become an attorney and to help people receive fair representation in court. The privilege to serve as Criminal Court Magistrate Judge will allow me to have a greater impact in insuring the rights of the accused while serving and protecting the community.”
Early voting for the October 19 election begins this Saturday.
This article originally published in the October 7, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.