Civil District Court Judge Chris Bruno said his experience — his first term as judge and 20 years litigating — makes him the strongest candidate for the Section F seat.
“I have proven that I can do the job,” he said.
He handled domestic cases after taking office in January 2009 and switched to the regular civil docket in 2012.
He’s especially proud of his efforts to keep children out of the courtroom, which he started when he was handling domestic cases.
“I will interview a child, but it won’t be in court,” he said. So he shed his robe and went to schools, hoping kids would be more comfortable there.
Bruno also worked to create a self-help desk for anyone representing himself in Civil District Court. Moving through the court system can be complicated, he said. Sometimes people just need proper instructions, such as where and how to file a document.
“They can only guide — [they] can’t give them legal advice, but can give them help,” Bruno said about the help desk.
He said his experience as a litigator helps him manage cases. He makes sure that people involved in a case — litigants, lawyers, jurors and witnesses — don’t needlessly wait around in court.
“I know, when I meet with the lawyers, how long it’s going to take to try the case,” Bruno said. “When you try a case in my court and I say it’s four days, that jury is there four days.”
If re-elected, Bruno said he will continue his focus on efficient litigation.
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.
Bruno said he could not comment on whether there should be fewer judges because that’s a legislative matter.
In 2011, WWL-TV reported that several civil judges had spent thousands in public funds traveling to exotic destinations for legal conferences. Unlike his colleagues, Bruno didn’t charge anything to the judicial expense fund.
He told The Lens he doesn’t seek reimbursement for travel. “If I travel, it’s on my own nickel,” he said.
Like other Civil District Court judges, Bruno said the current courthouse needs to be fixed up, in part to accommodate jurors and handicapped people. The judges have been working to build a new facility, but they don’t have a location or the money to do so.
Bruno said he would prefer to renovate the current courthouse, especially if it would save taxpayer money.
“Jurors have nowhere to deliberate,” Bruno said. “Jurors deliberate in a colleague’s courtroom.”
“We are the economic engine of the state of Louisiana,” he said, “and we don’t have a functioning courthouse.”