A Federal judge comes home

More than twenty years have passed since a Houma attorney Stanwood Duval Jr. was recommended by President Bill Clinton for an open bench in the Eastern District of New Orleans. Now, with his retirement from that position, Judge Duval ahs returned to the law firm from which he originally came.

Duval, Funderburk, Sundbery, Richard & Watkins, the firm with which his brother and namesake nephew are already associated, has rolled out the welcome mat for the judge, who is providing litigation strategy and mediation services.

“Judge Duval has had a notable career as a practicing attorney here in Houma for 28 years and as a federal judge for 22 years,” said his brother, Berwick Duval. “We are happy to have him back home at the firm.”

Judge Duval has brought an additional asset.

His former law clerk, Janet Louise Daley, has also come aboard to be “of counsel” to the firm. An attorney who is “of counsel” to a firm is one who is not a partner nor regular associate, but is available for assistance and consultation,

“Together, they offer their valuable experience in federal court to assist our corporation and individual clients, and other law firms, with federal litigation, mediation and arbitration in the areas of maritime, commercial, personal injury, employment, environmental and mineral law,” Berwick Duval added.

A native of Terrebonne Parish and graduate of Louisiana State University Law School, Judge Duval was a partner in the firm from 1966 to 1994. He succeeded the late U.S. District Judge George Arceneaux, Jr., who died in office in 1993. Prior to that he served as assistant city attorney of Houma from 1970 to 1972 and was the attorney to the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government from 1988 to 1993.

While serving on the federal bench he presided over court cases involving commercial litigation, insurance coverage and contract disputes, as well as criminal cases. He was extensively involved with decisions arising from litigation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The Katrina cases involved hundreds of thousands of claims brought by flood victims.

He officially retired from the bench Jan. 31, and joined the firm the next day.

Janet Louise Daly began serving as a clerk in the federal courts for Judge Duval in 1994. She drafted opinions and oversaw the drafting of jury charges in the great variety of cases over which Judge Duval presided.

The judge has made headlines at many points in his careet. In 2000 he issued an injunction barring the state of Louisiana from issuing “Choose Life” vanity tags for autos, a practice the legislature approved in 1999.

Siding with the arguments of Planned Parenthood, the plaintiff in the action, Judge Duval ruled that the choice of displaying the plates violated the First Amendment. No tag was available for those who might have disagreed with the view expressed by the “Choose Life” tag.

The opinion, however, was overturned by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

In addition to a ruling that extended the time during which Katrina victims could file for relief, Judge Duval issued a ruling which found that the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers was negligent in the manner it provided flood protection, leading to the lethal and damaging effects of the storm. His ruling was upheld by the Fifth Circuit.

Judge Duval