Judge Wilford Carter retires from court - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Judge Wilford Carter retires from court

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

After 21 years on the bench, State District Judge Wilford Carter is leaving the court to get back to the law practice he put on hold so many years ago.

A large crowd turned out for his retirement party in the jury pool room at the Calcasieu Judicial Center, where the often controversial judge was applauded for his public service and for always standing up for his beliefs.

Carter was greeted with a standing ovation as he entered the party in his honor , where speakers shared stories and reminisced.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach knows him from many years ago.

"I can remember when Wilford was on the city council. I remember when he served in the legislature. And I can tell you that my most memorable ride from Baton Rouge to Lake Charles was when he was driving. I don't know if you've ever driven with him, but he drives like he talks," said Roach.

There were words of admiration for his courage in often taking an unpopular stand,yet doing what he thinks is right.

Berna Hunt has been his judicial assistant for many years.

I know there were times when we disagreed on how low a bond should be and I will never forget your comment and you would say, Berna, look whose name is on that door," joked Hunt.

City and parish leaders and many in the legal community were there to wish him well and thank him

Shawn Papillion served as Carter's bailiff.

"Whether you agree with Judge Carter over the years, he remained unmoved. Full of laughter and joy, wearing his self dignity like a defiant badge of honor. All can aspire to stand up for their convictions as Judge Carter," said Papillion.

Court Reporter Lori Ceasar said Carter made a big difference in her life.

"I've been with him 17 years and I'm the first African American Court reporter in the city because of him," said Ceasar.

But the longtime judge says, he's not going away.

"I'm going back to the old school practice of law. I'm gonna be coming back to these judges I served with for many years begging them to help my client. I'm going to be doing some things they may not agree with, people in the community might not agree with but I think needs to be addressed, needs to be done and that I think, my life calling is, to address things that need to be done for the good of all the community," said Carter.

He says his private law office re-opens Friday.

"So if you need a lawyer, that lawyer be over there Friday morning!" said Carter, as the crowd roared with laughter.

Judge Carter says he may run for office again one day, but no time in the immediate future.

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