Judicial candidate Ruth Ramsey wants to create a judgment-free courtroom — that is, until she makes the ruling.
She’s challenging incumbent Judge Chris Bruno for the Section F seat of Orleans Parish Civil District Court. This is her first run for an elected office.
Ramsey said she is qualified for the job, with 15 years’ experience as a corporate lawyer and in appellate court. She served as a conference attorney for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, acting general counsel for the Peace Corps, and, most recently, vice president and general counsel for Liberty Bank and Trust Company. Her law degree is from the University of Chicago Law School.
Ramsey said she wants to create a courtroom where all feel welcome. That means treating people with respect, not judging them based on class, race or gender, and establishing a record of fair and impartial treatment.
“It’s really a matter of having the correct judicial temperament,” she said. “If you’re fair to everyone, the system works properly. And I think that’s what’s missing currently in this courtroom.” She didn’t offer any specifics.
Her ideas include improving interpreter services and making it easier for people with disabilities to access the court.
“Poor and working-class people also need to be able to have greater access to the court,” she said.
For instance, judges can waive filing fees, which she said isn’t done often enough in Bruno’s courtroom. That’s important because if someone has a valid claim but can’t come up with the filing fee, “you’re being denied justice.”
In 2013, the Bureau of Governmental Research published a report concluding that most of the courts in New Orleans are overstaffed. Civil District Court has twice as many judges as it needs, the report said.
Ramsey sees no need to reduce the size of the judiciary. She said all courts are being utilized and pointed out that two courtrooms will be dedicated to domestic matters.
She said the judicial expense fund can be used to help modernize Civil District Court, but she doesn’t have an opinion about whether the current building should be renovated or a new one should be built.
Ramsey said she would like to use the judicial expense fund for other types of modernization, too: e-filing in certain cases, remote access to status conferences and remote check-in for jurors.
Ramsey’s sister, Nadine Ramsey, is a city councilwoman. Ruth Ramsey said she doesn’t believe she would have to recuse herself from cases involving the city.