Attorney Monique Barial said her professional and personal experiences make her a qualified candidate for judge in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, Domestic Section 2.
Barial practiced law from an office in eastern New Orleans from 2003 to 2005, between stints as a law clerk to Civil District Judge Roland Belsome and minute clerk to Civil District Judge Christopher Bruno. She said that working as a clerk gave her a thorough grounding in the day-to-day operation of the court.
She resigned from her job as minute clerk in August to run for judge.
If elected, Barial said she would encourage mediation among parties, but she wouldn’t force it. She believes requiring it is an unfair burden to litigants who can’t afford an attorney and likely can’t afford mediation.
However, she said she would give parties the option to have her mediate their case for free beforehand, with the stipulation that if the mediation doesn’t work out, the litigants can’t ask for her recusal on the case. She believes people are happier with a mediated solution than one mandated by a judge.
“No one likes being told what to do,” Barial said, “especially when it comes to their children or their money.”
Barial said she would stagger arrival times for litigants so everyone doesn’t have to show up at 9 a.m. Some waiting can’t be avoided, she said, but the current system forces too many people to wait too long. Many people who appear in court are hourly employees, so the longer they’re in court, the more money they lose from their paychecks.
Another part of Barial’s platform is allowing for emergency hearings. She said issues frequently arise that need to be dealt with quickly, such as trips over the holidays or disagreements over schooling at the beginning of the school year.
It’s hard to deal with those issues quickly because it can take days or weeks to serve someone with paperwork telling them to show up in court. Barial said she would try to schedule a hearing immediately if the people involved agreed to waive their right to being served with papers.
Barial said she wouldn’t allow children in the courtroom — something she learned from Judge Bruno — and would prefer that kids aren’t even in the courthouse. Being in court is too traumatic, she said. If it’s important to talk to a child, she said she would make an appointment to interview him at school.
Barial’s husband has a daughter from his first marriage, whom Barial calls her “bonus daughter.” She said her familiarity with such blended families will help her empathize with people who come into family court.
She said her staff should be familiar with state laws on domestic violence so they can apply it properly. She hopes to put people in touch with existing organizations that help victims, such as Catholic Charities, which can find pro bono representation. Without representation, Barial said, many victims are too scared to come to court.
“People often don’t want to go to court,” she said, “if they don’t have someone by their side.”