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Tulane law alum takes office as first family court judge in New Orleans

March 02, 2012

Bernadette D'Souza (Photo/ Team D'Souza) 
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Tulane Law School alum Bernadette D’Souza (L ’92) took the bench Thursday (March 1) as New Orleans’s first permanent family court judge. According to the Louisiana State Bar Association, she also is believed to be the first Asian American female elected to a judicial seat in Louisiana. D’Souza, who was elected Feb. 2, 2012, will deal with family law cases involving divorce, custody, spousal support, child support, community property, paternity, and civil protection orders in domestic violence cases.

In a victory statement posted on her campaign website, bernadettedsouza.com, D’Souza stressed the importance of the new court and the effects it will have on the families it serves.

“Throughout my career in public interest law, working … to provide representation for those who could not otherwise afford a lawyer, I sought relentlessly to create this new Family Court,” she stated. “I know what a difference it will make in people’s lives.”

Since earning her Juris Doctor degree from Tulane, D’Souza has served her alma mater as both an adjunct professor of law and a legal consultant in the school’s Domestic Violence Clinic. Long committed to serving in the public interest, the family law specialist says she is guided by a genuine concern for the families of New Orleans and the welfare of the children caught in the midst of divorce and custody disputes.

“They all need and deserve a consistent, fair and caring presence on the bench to see them through the difficult situations that bring them to the court,” D’Souza said. “I will do my best to deliver on that fundamental promise of American justice.”

About Civil District Court – Domestic Section 1
The passage of Senate Bill 161 in the 2011 legislative session dedicated the next two Orleans Parish Civil District Court seats as permanent Family Court Sections. When Judge Herbert Cade won election to Traffic Court and resigned from Civil District Court, Domestic Section 1 replaced his vacant Civil District Court seat. The election for Domestic Section 1 was called by proclamation by Governor Bobby Jindal for March 24, 2012.

About Bernadette D’Souza
Bernadette D’Souza has been a practicing attorney in public interest law for over 18 years. She served as Managing Attorney for the Family Law Unit at New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation and then at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. D’Souza has received numerous professional awards, including the Louisiana State Bar’s Career Public Service Award, Association of Women Attorneys Wynne Professionalism Award, and the Victims & Citizens Against Crime “Sandy Krasnoff Citizen Hero” Award. She serves on the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Self-Represented Litigants Task Force and the Committee on Bar Admissions – Character and Fitness. She is the former Chair of the New Orleans Bar Association’s Family Law Committee and is currently a Fellow of the Louisiana Bar Foundation, where she also chairs the Development Committee. Ms. D’Souza is a 1992 Graduate of Tulane University Law School. D’Souza has three grown children, Lloyd, Vanessa, and Christine, and is married to Dr. Terence D’Souza, a neurologist at Ochsner Clinic at Baptist and a former faculty member at Tulane University Medical School. More recently, they became proud grandparents of Aidan Michael DePetrillo.

Sources and References:
www.BernadetteDSouza.com. 7 December 2011. (Retrieved March 1, 2012)
Louisiana State Bar Association Diversity Committee, 
Latest News and Events . (Retrieved March 1, 2012)


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