Distinguished Jurist

2010 Distinguished Jurist

Fredericka H. Wicker

Fredericka H. Wicker

Judge Fredericka H. Wicker is a 1977 alum of Tulane Law School. After practicing law for 20 years as a state and federal prosecutor and a civil litigator she joined the 24th Judicial District Court in 1997. There Wicker was a member of the court's management team and the Drug Court administrator. She was also the president of the Louisiana District Judges Association.

In 2006 she joined the Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeal. Currently Wicker is co-chair of the LSBA Diversity Committee, the LJC/LSBA Summer School and the Criminal Justice Summit. She is also the La. Supreme Court's designee to the Louisiana Sentencing Commission, a member of the Louisiana Judicial College Board of Governors, coaches the Louise S. McGehee School mock trial team, and is on the Family Services of Greater New Orleans Board of Directors.

Wicker is married to T. Carey Wicker and they are the parents of Ben, a freshman at the University of Richmond, T.C. a junior at Georgetown University, and Freddi , a 2010 alum of the University of Virginia, currently teaching in Biarritz, France.

2009 Distinguished Jurist

Frank J. Polozola

Frank J. Polozola

The Honorable Frank J. Polozola is a United States District Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana. He was sworn in as a United States District Judge on May 29, 1980, after having been nominated by President Jimmy Carter. He served as Chief Judge of the Middle District of Louisiana from September 1, 1998, to August 31, 2005, and became a Senior Judge on January 15, 2007. Prior to his Presidential appointment, Judge Polozola served as part time Magistrate Judge from April of 1972 until he was appointed the first full time Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana in October of 1973. Judge Polozola served as a Magistrate Judge until his appointment as District Judge. He began his legal career serving as a law clerk to United States District Judge E. Gordon West of Baton Rouge. Following his work with Judge West, he entered private practice and subsequently became a partner in the law firm of Seale, Smith and Phelps in Baton Rouge.

As an undergraduate, Judge Polozola attended Louisiana State University on an athletic scholarship where he was a two year letterman and was a member of the 1961 Southeastern Conference Champion baseball team. From 1962-65, Judge Polozola attended LSU Law School, where he received his J.D. in 1965, and received the BNA Award for the senior who increased his GPA the highest as a senior law student. He was selected for Law Review but was not able to serve because of work responsibilities. He was named an honorary member of Omicron Delta Kappa honorary leadership society in 1979. In 1987, he was inducted into the LSU Law School Hall of Fame. More recently, he was inducted into the Order of Coif.

Over the years, Judge Polozola has held leadership positions in several organizations that work to improve the administration of justice of the federal courts. While a magistrate judge, Judge Polozola served as the Treasurer, Second Vice-President, First Vice-President, and President of the National Council of United States Magistrate Judges. He has also served as President, President-Elect, and Secretary of the District Judges Association of the Fifth Circuit, as a member of the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council, on the Committee of the United States Magistrate Judge System for the Judicial Conference of the United States, on the Space and Staffing Committee of the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council, was appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to serve as chairman of the Federal Judicial Center's Committee on District Judges Education, which plans and implements CLE programs for District Judges, as a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association Federal-State Court Liaison Committee, as a member of the National Alumni Board of the LSU Law Center, and as a member of the Fifth Circuit District Judges Association Civil Jury Charge Committee.

He is a current member of the LSU Alumni Baseball Committee and served for 22 years as a member of the Board of Directors of Catholic High School. He is a member of the Baton Rouge Bar Association, Louisiana State Bar Association, the Wex Malone American Inns of Court, where he served as president, the Federal Judges Association, and the Fifth Circuit District Judges Association. Judge Polozola was also an adjunct professor of law both at LSU Law Center and at Southern University Law School. Besides teaching at the two law schools in Baton Rouge, Judge Polozola has also been on the faculty of the Federal Judicial Center since 1980.

He has been instrumental in establishing the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program and Job Challenge Program for at-risk youths at the Gillis W. Long Center in Carville, Louisiana, and continues to support these two programs and the Job Corps Program which is also at the Gillis W. Long Center.

Recent achievement awards include: Recognition Award from the LSU School of Social Work for Outstanding Contributions to Mental Health and Correctional Services; Law League of Louisiana's Bernard J. Caillouet Award for Outstanding Contribution in Law Related Education; Knights of Columbus Council #3298 Person of the Year in 1993; 1994 Citizen of the Year award by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; 1994 inductee into the LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction; Catholic High School Hall of Fame; the Capital City Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Distinguished American Award; Pelican Award by the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program; 1993 LSU Baseball Alumni of the Year; the Eagle Award by the Louisiana National Youth Challenge Program; 2006 President's Award from the Baton Rouge Bar Association; 2006 LSU Athletic Department Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award; a 2001 inductee into the American-Italian Athletic Hall of Fame; Southeastern Conference 75th Anniversary Person of Character Award; 2008 inductee into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame; and Louisiana Bar Foundation 2009 Distinguished Jurist.

He is married to Linda Kay White and has three children, Gregory Polozola, Sheri Vutera, and Gordon Polozola, and seven grandchildren, Dustin, Danielle, and Bradley Vutera, Sean and Alana Polozola, and Evan and Sophia Polozola.

Ralph E. Tyson

Ralph E. Tyson

Ralph E. Tyson, was a Judge in Division C of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After graduating from Southern University Laboratory School in 1966, Judge Tyson received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1970 at Louisiana State University and his Juris Doctor Degree from the LSU Law School in May, 1973.

Judge Tyson was admitted to the practice of law in Louisiana in October, 1973, and subsequently was employed as Special Counsel and Assistant Attorney General in the Louisiana Department of Justice; Assistant District Attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish; and, for over nine years, was the Chief City Prosecutor for the City of Baton Rouge. During this time, Judge Tyson was also actively engaged in the private practice of law for over 15 years, first with the firm of Pitcher and Tyson and, finally, with the firm of Tyson, Avery & Cunningham.

In October, 1988, Judge Tyson was elected to a vacant seat in Division B of the Baton Rouge City Court where he presided for over five years. During that time, he was elected to serve as Treasurer of the Louisiana City Judge's Association and, later, as Secretary of that organization.

In January, 1993, Judge Tyson was elected without opposition to Division B of the 19th Judicial District Court where he presided over misdemeanor and felony criminal trials. From July, 1997, to June, 1998, Judge Tyson served as the Chief Criminal Judge of the 19th Judicial District Court. During this time, Judge Tyson also served as Judge Pro Tempore on the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal by special appointment of the Louisiana Supreme Court from May, 1997 to October 31, 1997.

On April 2, 1998, President Clinton nominated Judge Tyson to a newly created judgeship in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 31, 1998, and Judge Tyson then became the first African-American federal judge in the Federal Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. On September 1, 2005 Judge Tyson became Chief Judge of the Federal Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Judge Tyson was married for to the former Patricia Jordan. They have four children, Chris, Todd, Eric and Cara. Judge Tyson was a lifelong member of Wesley United Methodist Church. He was a member of the Board of the General Health System in Baton Rouge and, on September 24, 2009, Judge Tyson was recognized as the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus of the LSU Law Center.

2008 Distinguished Jurist

Bernette Joshua Johnson

Bernette Joshua Johnson

Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson was elected Associate Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1994, and was reelected, without opposition, in 2000. Since she has been on the Supreme Court, Justice Johnson has been appointed to the Legal Services Task Force, and has served on the Judicial Council of Louisiana. She is the Supreme Court's contact person for the National Campaign on best practices in the area of Racial and Ethnic Fairness In the Courts, and has worked closely with the Court's Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Committee, and the Committee on Bar Admissions.

In 1984, Justice Johnson was the first woman elected to the Civil District Court in New Orleans. She was reelected without opposition in 1990, and was elected Chief Judge by her colleagues in 1994. Justice Johnson attended Spelman College in Atlanta on an academic scholarship, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree. One of the first African-American women to attend the Law School at Louisiana State University, she received her Juris Doctorate degree in 1969.

Prior to her election to the bench, Justice Johnson spent much of her legal career working in the public sector. She has been a legal services attorney, and a Deputy City Attorney for the City of New Orleans. Justice Johnson has worked as a law intern with the U.S. Justice Department, Civil Rights Division, and as a community organizer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City. She helped to organize household workers, so they would receive social security benefits and a minimum wage.

In 1996, Justice Johnson's portrait was unveiled, and she was inducted into the LSU Law Center Hall of Fame. Justice Johnson is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Bar Association's Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award in 1998. She was the recipient of the first Ernest N. Morial Award given by the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation and the A.P. Tureaud Citizenship Award given by the Louisiana State Conference, NAACP. In 2000, she was presented the Medal of Honor by the Mayor of the City of New Orleans. Also, in 2000, she received the Women of Wonder award presented by the National Council of Negro Women. In 2001, Justice Johnson received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Spelman College. In 2005, she was presented the Judicial Public Service Award by the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine of North and South America and its Jurisdictions. Inc.

Justice Johnson organized the first Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program for the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society and was Chair of the CLE Committee. She was given the Martinet's President award in1997 and 2008. She is a Fleur De Lis member of the New Orleans Bar Association, and is active with several committees of the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA). She was presented with the LSBA President's award in 2005, for her work as co-chair the Diversity Committee. In 1998, she Chaired of the National Bar Association Judicial Council, where she also served a term as Secretary. She is currently a member of the A.P. Tureaud Inn of Court and the Louisiana State Law Institute. She is an active member of the National Association of Women Judges. She has served as a District Director, and is now active with the Women in Prison Project.

2007 Distinguished Jurist

Thomas F. Daley

Thomas F. Daley

Judge Thomas F. Daley currently serves on the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and has served on that Court since 1996. Prior to serving on the appellate court he served as District Judge on the 40th Judicial District Court beginning in 1991. Judge Daley received his Masters in Law from the University of Virginia School of Law, his Jurist Doctorate from Loyola University School of Law, and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics and English from Rutgers University.

Judge Daley is a member of the Louisiana Judicial College Board of Governors and currently chairs the Louisiana Judicial Council's Court Costs Subcommittee. He is Chairman of the Louisiana Bar Foundation Education Committee. He has previously served on the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics, the Supreme Court Committee on Preparation of Appellate Records, the Supreme Court Committee on Legal Internship, and the Lake Maurepas Park Commission. He was an Assistant Bar Examiner for the Louisiana Bar Association from 1993 to 2002.

Judge Daley has co-authored a Treatise entitled "Louisiana Law on Lawyering" and "A Practical Digest of Louisiana Class Action Decisions."

Judge Daley is an Adjunct Professor at LSU School of Law teaching Pre-trial Procedure, and is a recipient of the Honorary Order of the Coif from the LSU School of Law. He frequently lectures in CLE programs for the Louisiana Judicial College, Louisiana Bar Association, and LSU School of Law on topics ranging from Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Appellate Procedures, Judicial Ethics, and Class Actions.

Judge Daley is very active in the St. John the Baptist Parish community and chairs the Keep St. John Beautiful Committee. He is an active member of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Margaret Mary Versaggi, and has two daughters, Bernadette and Monique.

2006 Distinguished Jurist

Catherine D. (Kitty) Kimball

Catherine D. (Kitty) Kimball

Justice Catherine (Kitty) Kimball was elected associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court in November 1991, becoming the first woman to serve on that court. She is a graduate of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University and served as district judge in the 18th Judicial District prior to being elected to the Supreme Court. Her previous legal experience includes law clerk, United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana, Special Counsel, Louisiana Attorney General's office, General Counsel, Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, and private law practice in New Roads, Louisiana.

Justice Kimball is a founder of the Sunshine Foundation, which distributes free books annually to Louisiana's pre-schoolers to enhance self-esteem regardless of personal circumstances. To date, the Louisiana National Guard has distributed over 500,000 free books to Louisiana children.

Justice Kimball currently serves as chair of the Louisiana Budgetary Control Board; chair, Louisiana Supreme Court Technology Committee; chair, Court Committee Southeast Louisiana Criminal Justice Recovery Task Force; chair, Louisiana Integrated Criminal Justice System Policy Board. She also serves on the Paul M. Hebert Law Center Search Committee; Louisiana Children's Cabinet; Juvenile Justice Implementation Commission; and Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice. She is one of two judges on the COSCA/NACM National Center for State Courts Joint Technology Committee.

Justice Kimball has been inducted into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame and the Louisiana State University Law Center Hall of Fame. She was selected as the Outstanding Alumni of the LSU Law Center in 1999. She received the Outstanding Judicial Award from Victims & Citizens Against Crime Inc. and was nominated on three occasions for the YWCA Women of Achievement Award. She was honored as one of the 25 Women of Achievement by the Baton Rouge Business Report in 1997 and received the 2002 Louisiana CASA President's Award as well as the 2003 Ambassador for Children Award from the Louisiana CASA Association. She was recently honored by Crimestoppers with the Crimestoppers Criminal Justice and Community Service Award.

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