After Judge Trudy White retired, three candidates are vying to fill her Baton Rouge seat

Three attorneys with at least 45 years of combined legal experience in East Baton Rouge Parish are running for the seat in the 19th Judicial District Court formerly held by longtime judge Trudy White.

Candidates ReAzalia Allen, Colette Greggs and Sclynski “Lyn” Legier are seeking a seat in the court’s Division J, presiding over civil and criminal cases.

The election is Oct. 14. Early voting began this weekend.

The Democratic hopefuls are vying to finish out the six-year term of retired judge Trudy White, who stepped down April 1.

White served 14 years as a district judge and was just over two years into her third term, which expires at the end of 2026. Before joining the 19th JDC, she became the first Black woman ever elected to Baton Rouge City Court in 1999.

White faced several controversies during her tenure, including a campaign video that showed a man in an orange prison jumpsuit, an unexplained three-month leave of absence and a settled lawsuit accusing her of improperly funneling defendents to an ankle monitoring company. 

ReAzalia Allen

Allen, 33, is the youngest of the three candidates. The Shreveport native served six years as a senior staff attorney in the 19th District, spending much of that time working in White’s office before joining the Dudley Debosier injury law firm last year as an associate attorney and brief writer.

Allen is also an adjunct professor at the Southern University Law Center and has been listed by the American Bar Associations as one of the top young lawyers on the rise under the age of 40.

A key piece of Allen’s message is bridging the gap between the community and the criminal justice system by making elected officials more engaged with the public through block parties, community meetings, listening forums and other public events.

ReAzalia Allen

ReAzalia Allen

“I’m going to be a judge that stays boots on the ground,” she said. “Even after I’m elected, I’m going to stay in the community. Because you can’t sit up here and give rules from the bench if you have no knowledge of what’s going on in the community that you judge.”

Allen wants to play a role in the district’s upcoming domestic violence court and other specialty courts in the works. She also hopes to work with nonprofit organizations and churches that can provide resources and “wraparound services” for people before they catch cases.

“It’s something I’m passionate about doing because we don’t have a lot of services like that,” she said. “Some are there, but those services only occur on the back end after a person has already gone through the adjudication process.”

Colette Greggs

Greggs, 64, is a Baton Rouge native. She said that gives her a homegrown perspective on what’s needed in the parish.

She also advocates for preventative programs by partnering with the community to keep young people out of the criminal justice system and quash cases before they ever arise.

“We’ve got to hold people accountable and each case will be handled individually in accordance with the law,” she said. “I’ll be firm, but I’m going to also be very, very fair. And I’m a very compassionate person.”

Colette Greggs

Colette M. Greggs

Greggs spent years working in Washington, D.C. as an accountant for the CIA before she came back home and began handling cases for the East Baton Rouge Public Defender’s office.

It’s not the first time Greggs has run for judge. Greggs challenged ex-district judge Todd Hernandez in November 2014 and lost to the Republican incumbent by less than 3,000 votes. She launched another bid for Baton Rouge City Court in 2021, but a judge removed her from the ballot after ruling she didn’t qualify to vote in the district she was running for.

Greggs is the daughter of the late Dr. Isaac “Doc” Greggs, director and creator of Southern University’s iconic Human Jukebox marching band.

“I stand on a legacy of excellence and integrity,” she said. “My father was the band director at Southern University, and that’s what he stood for. That’s how he raised me.”

Lyn Legier

Legier has campaigned on her resume as the right mix or legal expertise, public service and private sector experience. She spent more than six years in the U.S. Air Force and has been a staff attorney for the Public Defender’s office for over 20 years.

“Repetition is the mother of skill,” she said. “To me, the courtroom is my office. So because I’ve been there at least three times a week over the past 21 years, I’ve learned how to understand people and understand where they are…That takes time to learn and hone in on.”

Legier, 56, toyed with the idea of running for judge in 2019 after Hernandez announced he was stepping down, but she never entered the field.

Sclynski “Lyn” Legier

Sclynski “Lyn” Legier

Legier’s focus her first year in office will be clearing the docket of unnecessary gridlock.

“That section that I’m going to has a heavy docket – a lot of open cases. What I want to do is close those cases,” she said. “Seeing how we can resolve the open files that we have in a more expeditious way.”

Legier plans to adopt the style of ex-judge Bonnie Jackson, who was the second-most senior judge in the district when she retired in 2020 after nearly 30 years on the bench. That will include holding attorneys accountable for failing to move cases forward.

“My job is to educate, my job is to uplift, but my job is also to make sure that the public is safe,” Legier said. “Being a judge, not only are you looking at the cases, you’re also managing people. Folks don’t realize all the moving parts that you have to manage.”

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