|September 22, 2011|
Previously published by Herencia Hispana
REDMANN: You have just made history in the State of Louisiana, becoming the very first woman Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. How does that feel?
JUDGE KIMBALL: Any time you are first, you recognize the special obligations placed upon you. All people are watching you. The way you handle your job directly impacts the ability of those who follow behind you; you feel a greater obligation to prove that you can do this job.
REDMANN: Your excellent record as a justice on the Supreme Court is well-known to much of the public. What are some of your greatest accomplishments thus far in that position?
JUDGE KIMBALL: Spearheading the effort to broadcast on the internet the oral argument litigants before the Court so anyone interested could watch the whole argument process online from any computer (go to www.lasc.org, and click on the viewer to the right of the screen). Another important accomplishment was in obtaining funding for "Drug Courts" - courts helping to address accused of drug offenses - across the state.
REDMANN: What would you like the public to know about you? Your work?
JUDGE KIMBALL: The public may not know much about me, and what I've worked to accomplish, including what I just described. What are o ther things about me and what my work involves that I'd like the public to know? We have done many things directly and indirectly that help the community. Our branch of government - the "Judicial Branch" - works with the other branches often. One example is how we have worked with C.A.S.A. - "Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children" - a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance for abused children. I'm very proud of that work.
REDMANN: You are known as a defender of the rights for individuals as guaranteed by the U.S. and Louisiana Constitution. Explain some the challenges you have faced as a justice.
JUDGE KIMBALL: It is always a challenge to stand up and support rights, even if it is unpopular. We must do what the law and Constitution say, not what we may personally feel or the public may want at any given moment.
REDMANN: Do you have an opinion on how Katrina has had and will have an effect on our region, and what role do you believe Latin-Americans have played and may still play in our recovery?
JUDGE KIMBALL: When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, 22 different areas' court systems were rendered inoperable (including the building housing the Louisiana Supreme Court and Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans, which had to relocate after the storm). In the New Orleans area, the District Attorney's Office and the Public Defender's Office were also both rendered inoperable. We had to work very hard to help all of those court systems get up and operational again. I was very much involved in that process, as well. The court system is still a "work in progress," and we are looking at the impact of interpreters being needed, and things like that, but we are making progress. Beyond the Legal system, the devastation of homes and businesses everywhere was significant. Without the help of the Hispanics, we would never have been able to rebuild. But all of this rebuilding has given us opportunities for improvements, and we are working to improve things.
REDMANN: What would you most like to be remembered for as a jurist?
JUDGE KIMBALL: Goal is the same from the first day: Only thing is being fair and treating everyone's case on an even keel. One word: "Fair." We were the first state in the nation to have a Domestic Violence Registry which keeps track of all domestic violence offenders, that allows police officers to keep track of active court orders involving persons known to have committed violence against others and/or who are supposed to keep away from spouses or ex-spouses or children.
WRITER'S NOTE: Chief Justice Kimball was very generous in spending much time discussing various issues in this interview. In an effort to report her excellent comments, some liberties were taken in paraphrasing her comments in order to fit as much into the article as possible and sacrifice as little information as possible. -J. Redmann