Douglas Gonzales

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Douglas Marion Gonzales, Sr.​

Judge of the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit,
Second District, Division B​
In office
January 1, 1991​ – August 1, 2002​
Preceded by Steve A. Alford, Jr. ​
Succeeded by Michael A. Patterson (interim)​

J. Michael McDonald (permanent)​


Judge of Division L of the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court
in East Baton Rouge Parish​
In office
November 24, 1976​ – December 31, 1990​
Preceded by Julian Bailes (interim)​
Succeeded by Michael Erwin​

Born December 11, 1935​
Place of birth missing

Resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Died January 22, 2021 (aged 85)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Nationality American​
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Gail Webre Gonzales​
Children Dr. Douglas M. Gonzales, Jr.​

Kelly Gonzales Rohwedder
Four grandchildren
Parents:
Edward Joseph, Jr., and Ruth Attaway Gonzales

Alma mater Catholic High School (Baton Rouge)

University of Notre Dame
Paul M. Hebert Law Center at
Louisiana State University

Occupation Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Douglas Marion Gonzales, Sr. (December 11, 1935 – January 22, 2021), was a jurist from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.​[1][2]

From 1967 to 1971, Gonzales was an assistant district attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish. From 1971 to 1972, he was the first director of the Office of Public Defender.[1] From 1972 to 1976, Gonzales, a Republican, was the U.S. Attorney for the then newly-established United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. He was appointed by U.S. President Gerald Ford.[3] From 1976[4] to 1990, he was the judge of the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge Parish. He joined the circuit court in 1991 and ran without opposition in 1992 to succeed the retiring Judge Steve A. Alford, Jr., on the Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit, Second District, Division B.[5] Judge Gonzales retired on August 1, 2002, after more than eleven years on the circuit court, which has jurisdiction over sixteen parishes,[6][7]

Background

​ Gonzales received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959 from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and his L.L.B. in 1963 from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge. He was admitted to the bar that same year.[1]

Gonzales and his wife, the former Gail Webre (born November 20, 1938), resided in Baton Rouge.[1] The couple had two children, Dr. Douglas Gonzales, Jr. (born April 16, 1967), and wife Diane of Lafayette, Louisiana, and Kelly Gonzales Rohwedder and husband Edward of Los Angeles, California. Dr. Gonzales is a pediatrics specialist.[8]

Selected legal cases

The D'Artois and Leslie case

Early in his judicial career, Judge Gonzales issued arrest warrants in the case of George Wendell D'Artois (1925-1977), the Shreveport public safety commissioner under the city commission government who was charged in the assassination in Baton Rouge in July 1976 of public relations specialist Jim Leslie (1937-1976), who had been D'Artois's former campaign consultant from Shreveport. D'Artois was soon released pending lack of evidence but was later indicted for murder. He died in 1977 during heart surgery in San Antonio, Texas, before he could face a jury, and the Leslie case remains legally unsolved.[4]

1979 gubernatorial primary dispute

In the fall of 1979, Judge Gonzales heard the case Fitzmorris v. Lambert in the Baton Rouge district court. Then Lieutenant Governor Jimmy Fitzmorris, a Democrat from New Orleans, sued to obtain a runoff election berth in the 1979 gubernatorial primary. The victorious Republican candidate David C. Treen, then a U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 3rd congressional district, led the primary with 297,674 votes. Fitzmorris at first appeared headed into the general election with Treen, with 280,490 votes. Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Louis Lambert, with 279,014 votes, correctly predicted that "there will be changes in the final results." Paul Hardy, the outgoing one-term secretary of state, finished fourth with 225,058 votes, while House Speaker E. L. "Bubba" Henry, then of Jonesboro in Jackson Parish, and outgoing state Senator Edgar G. "Sonny" Mouton, Jr., of Lafayette trailed with 135,299 and 123,126 votes, respectively. The official results switched the positions of Fitzmorris and Lambert: Fitzmorris polled 280,760 votes; Lambert, 283,266. Lambert hence went into the general election by a margin of 2,506 votes over Fitzmorris's final tabulation.[9]

Fitzmorris claimed an incorrect counting of the primary ballots had placed Lambert, who later served an extended period in the state Senate, into the second round of balloting with Treen. Judge Gonzales threw out three hundred Lambert votes in three precincts in St. Helena Parish, one of the Florida Parishes in southeastern Louisiana, because Lambert's total in each precinct increased by one hundred votes between election night, October 27, and the release of the final tabulation on October 30.[10] However, Gonzales dismissed the suit. He somberly told Fitzmorris, "You have proven your courage and integrity, but the facts have not proven your case."[10] Gonzales added that he took his action "with a sad heart."[10] After attempts at appeal, Fitzmorris told the media: "I am now more convinced than ever that this election was stolen from Jimmy Fitzmorris."[10] The Fitzmorris-Lambert rivalry aided Treen in securing Democratic support in the general election against Lambert. The dispute created a major issue of the governor's race: election reform. Treen went on to become the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.[11]​ but was overwhelmingly voted out in 1983, when Edwin Edwards returned for his third gubernatorial term.

On March 10, 1980, Gonzales administered the oath of office to Treen and gave him a Bible inscribed, "Dave, Upon this good book, you took your oath of office. Please keep it close so it can serve as a constant reminder of your solemn commitment to the people of this great state ..."[12]

Dumas v. Jetson

Four years later, Judge Gonzales heard another disputed election case, Dumas v. Jetson, in which Walter Dumas claimed that he had lost a contest by 213 votes for the District 61 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives to Louis Jetson because of "fraud, voting by unqualified voters, improper assistance of voters by election commissioners, improper campaigning in polling places, and improper conduct in polling places."[13] As in the Fitzmorris case, Gonzales ruled that Dumas had not proved his case of election fraud and ordered the payment of court costs and legal fees to Jetson.[13] Coincidentally, Jetson died shortly after taking his oath of office as a state representative.[14]

Malina v. Gonzales

In another case, Malina v. Gonzales, the judge, while on the 19th Judicial District Court, was himself sued in 1988 regarding a highway incident with Thomas Martin Malina (born June 1957) of Baton Rouge. Malina signaled Judge Gonzales, not knowing his identity, for allegedly driving at a slower rate in the "fast lane" of a highway and motioned for the driver to move into the left lane. Gonzales apparently became irritated at Malina and turned on his flashing light and told Malina that he had the authority to arrest him, but Malina fled the scene. Judge Gonzales then sent a police officer privately to Malina's home to request that Malina appear the next day in court. Gonzales told Malina that he had arrest authority and charged him with multiple counts, "fleeing to allude," "resisting an officer," "public endangerment," "disobeying an officer," "reckless driving," and "leaving the scene." Malina said that he questioned the flashing light from an unmarked vehicle. Gonzales cited Malina for contempt of court. Malina was handcuffed, fingerprinted, photographed, and jailed for five hours. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans held on appeal in 1993 that Judge Gonzales lacked legal authority to arrest Malina but did have qualified immunity from Malina's suit and the legal power to charge Malina with contempt and to hold him for five hours.[15]

Death

Judge Gonzales was a member of his state and national bar associations, the American Judges Association, and the American Judicature Society. He was a member of the Baton Rouge Power Squadron, Kiwanis Club, Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Baton Rouge. Judge Gonzales died in Baton Rouge at the age of eighty-five. A private memorial service was held in his honor.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Judged Douglas Marion Gonzales, Sr., obituary. The Baton Rouge Advocate (January 30, 2021). Retrieved on January 31, 2021.
  2. Douglas M. Gonzales. Mylife.com. Retrieved on January 31, 2021.
  3. Gonzales, Douglas M.. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved on June 7, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bill Keith (2009). The Commissioner: A True Story of Deceit, Dishonor, and Death. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 183–184. ISBN 9781-58980-655-9. Retrieved on June 7, 2020. 
  5. Death of Judge Steve A. Alford, Jr. (1920-1990). The Baton Rouge Advocate (October 19, 1990). Retrieved on June 7, 2020.
  6. "Riding circuit to hold session in Hammond," The Hammond Daily Star, accessed January 16, 2015; material no longer accessible on-line.
  7. Attorney Michael A. Patterson. Louisiana Supreme Court (July 24, 2002). Retrieved on June 7, 2020.
  8. Dr. Douglas Gonzales, M.D.. Healthgrades.com. Retrieved on June 7, 2020.
  9. Louisiana Secretary of State, Gubernatorial primary returns, October 27, 1979.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Shreveport Journal November 8, 1979, p. 6A.
  11. The Shreveport Times, December 10, 1979, p. 1.
  12. The Shreveport Times, March 11, 1980, p. 1.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dumas v. Jetson. leagle.com (December 28, 1984). Retrieved on June 7, 2020.
  14. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024: East Baton Rouge Parish. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on January 31, 2021.
  15. Malina v. Gonzales. openjurist.org (June 25, 1993). Retrieved on June 7, 2020.