Judge Vanessa Guidry-Whipple of Houma to retire at year's end from Louisiana appeals court

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Vanessa Guidry-Whipple of Houma plans to retire as a judge on the state's First Circuit Court of Appeal when her term expires Dec. 31.

Guidry-Whipple became the first woman elected to the court in 1990 and has served as its first female chief judge since 2013.

A Bourg native and lifelong Terrebonne Parish resident, she has participated in several thousand cases on the court and written over 1,000 of legal opinions on its behalf.

Judge Vanessa Guidry-Whipple of Houma.
Judge Vanessa Guidry-Whipple of Houma.

The court, based in Baton Rouge, was established in 1906 and handles appeals from 16 parishes, including Terrebonne and Lafourche.

"The opinions authored by Chief Judge Whipple include many important decisions, such as the case prohibiting shell dredging in badly polluted Lake Pontchartrain, largely credited with cleaning up that body and reviving recreational activities in the lake," the court says in a news release Wednesday.

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During her first term, she served as an ad hoc justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court. Her proposed opinion became the adopted position of the Supreme Court in the case of State v. Sandifer. It upheld the constitutionality of a state law allowing for enhanced prosecution of criminals offenses involving drugs and firearms.

Guidry-Whipple is one of few judges to have served as the appellate judge member of the Louisiana Judiciary Commission for two four-year terms. Appointed by the state Supreme Court, the commission handles complaints about Louisiana judges' conduct and enforces judicial ethics rules.

She was appointed as a faculty member and lecturer by the U.S. State Department in a foreign language program to help the Dominican Republic develop an ethics code for judges.

Before she was elected judge, Guidry-Whipple practiced law in Houma with her late husband, Keith Whipple. She has been a member of the Rotary Club of Houma-Terrebonne for 27 years, serving as a past president.

"Chief Judge Guidry-Whipple expressed that she wishes to thank the citizens of the parishes encompassing the First Circuit for placing their trust in her and allowing her the opportunity to serve as their judge on the First Circuit for the past 31 years," the release says.

Elections for her seat and other state appeals court judgeships are scheduled for Nov. 8. Candidates will sign up July 20-22. State appeals judges serve 10-year terms.

Courier and Daily Comet Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @CourierEditor.

This article originally appeared on The Courier: Judge Vanessa Guidry-Whipple to retire from Louisiana appeals court