Kernan "Skip" Hand
|Kernan August "Skip" Hand, Sr.|
Louisiana State Representative
for District 79 (Jefferson Parish)
1984 – 1994
|Succeeded by||Danny Martiny|
Division H Judge in Jefferson Parish
1994 – 2008
|Preceded by||Hubert A. Vondenstein|
|Succeeded by||Glenn Ansardi|
|Born|| December 30, 1945|
Place of birth missing
|Spouse(s)||Gloria R. Hand|
|Children|| Kernan Hand, Jr.
In 1994, Kernan Hand vacated the Louisiana House of Representatives after a decade of service to launch a nearly 15-year career as a state district court judge in Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans. On the bench, Hand participated in a number of cases which received extensive media attention.
Kernan August Hand, Sr., known as Kernan "Skip" Hand (born December 30, 1945), is a retired state court judge of the 24th Judicial District from Kenner in suburban Jefferson Parish outside New Orleans, Louisiana. A Republican, Hand served in the "Division H" judgeship from the spring of 1994 until his retirement on December 31, 2008. Previously, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 79 from 1984 until he stepped down ten years later to assume his judicial position.
Hand won the District 79 legislative seat from Jefferson Parish in the 1983 general election, when he defeated fellow Republican Herb Cammatte, 4,715 votes (55 percent) to 3,852 (45 percent). That previous month former Governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, had successfully staged his third-term comeback against the incumbent Republican David C. Treen, then also a resident of Jefferson Parish. On October 24, 1987, Hand won a second legislative term, when he defeated the Democrat Sal Lejarza, 10,128 votes (82.4 percent) to 2,160 (17.6 percent).
In 1991, Hand won his third term in the state House by defeating the Democrat Sherry Schneider, 6,473 (61.5 percent) to 4,047 (38.5 percent). When he left the legislature, Hand was succeeded by Danny Martiny, a Moderate Republican attorney from Jefferson Parish, later the state senator for District 10.
Hand won the judgeship in the special election held on March 26, 1994, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Hubert A. Vondenstein (1931–1993), whose service began in 1986. Hand defeated the Democrat Ronald T. Gracianette of Madisonville in St. Tammany Parish, 6,326 (59.2 percent) to 4,363 (40.8 percent). After nearly fifteen years on the bench, Hand was succeeded as judge by the former Democratic State Representative Glenn Ansardi of Kenner, who served in the House from 1986 to 2008.
Meanwhile, in 1988, Representative Hand was the Republican candidate in a regional race for the Louisiana Public Service Commission, having been defeated by his legislative colleague and future Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat from Lafayette. Blanco polled 161,270 votes (57.3 percent) to Hand’s 120,392 (43.7 percent). In defeat, Hand won his own Jefferson Parish and the southeastern coastal parishes of St. Bernard and Plaquemines, formerly the domain of political boss Leander Henry Perez, Sr. (1891-1969).
Tulane scholarship controversy
Each Louisiana legislator may award a tuition waiver—worth some $17,000 in 1993—to one student per year at Tulane University, under an 1884 law approved when the school was converted from a public to a private institution. As a legislator, Hand was one of four lawmakers in 1993 found to have given Tulane scholarships to their own children. The others were Jim Donelon (current state insurance commissioner) and Ken Hollis (1942-2010), both Republicans, and Steven Theriot of Marrero, then a Democrat, all of the New Orleans suburbs. Several other legislators admitted having given the scholarships to politically connected applicants. New Orleans Democratic Mayor Sidney Barthelemy confessed to having given his allotted scholarship to his son.
Selected court cases
Judge Hand presided in his Division H courtroom in Gretna in Jefferson Parish. In the 1996 case involving Allen Snyder, an African American former Marine accused of murdering his estranged wife's male companion, Hand permitted the exclusion of two blacks from the jury under the prosecutor's peremptory challenges. After a dozen years, the United States Supreme Court in 2008 ruled 7 to 2 in Snyder v. Louisiana that Hand violated the 1986 precedent, Batson v. Kentucky, which forbids excluding jurors on the basis of race.
In 2007, Judge Hand sentenced 22-year-old Terrell Williams of St. Rose in St. Charles Parish to twenty-five years' imprisonment in exchange for his guilty plea to having caused the death of 14-month-old Tyler Cerise. Williams struck the child and his mother, Erin Cerise, with a stolen vehicle at a Wal-Mart outlet in Kenner. Jason Cerise, father of Tyler and husband of Erin, said that Williams "destroyed our family that day [and while] he will be sentenced to incarceration today, on that day we were sentenced to a life of agony." Hand's courtroom was the scene of such emotion in the Williams case that the judge, courtroom staff, and prosecutors broke into tears.
In 2004, Hand ordered an growth hormone treatment for an eleven-year-old boy who is shorter than 95 percent of his peers. The father, a Tulane professor, said that he that was unsure if the treatment, estimated at $20,000 annually, would be covered by insurance. Judge Hand cited reports from three physicians who indicated "overwhelming evidence" to support the treatment.
Judge Hand today
Judge Hand and his wife, Gloria R. Hand, have two sons, Kernan Hand, Jr. (born c. 1970), an attorney, and David Michael Hand (born c. 1981).
On September 23, 2009, Judge Hand was unanimously named hearing officer by the Jefferson Parish Council. He left the hearing officer position in 2010. In 2011, Hand was defeated in a race for a seat on the Jefferson Parish Council by fellow Republican Ben Zahn.
- Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020 (Jefferson Parish). Louisiana House of Representatives (May 21, 2019). Retrieved on October 9, 2019.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 19, 1983.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 24, 1987.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 19, 1981.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 19, 1991.
- William C. Credo, III. The Changing Face of the Jefferson Parish Judiciary. lsba.org. Retrieved on November 16, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, March 26, 1994.
- Ansardi Running for Judge. blogofneworleans.com. Retrieved on November 15, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 8, 1988.
- Scott Dyer, "Scholarship Controversy Grows," The Baton Rouge Advocate, June 17, 1993.
- Paul Purpura (March 19, 2008). Supreme Court overturns Kenner man's murder conviction. The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved on October 9, 2019.
- Paul Purpura (July 11, 2007). Driver gets 25 years in Kenner tot's death: Stolen Jeep hit mom and son at Wal-Mart. New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved on November 15, 2009; no longer on-line.
- "Growth hormone ordered for boy: Judge rules short child should get treatment. shortsupport.org (March 26, 2004). Retrieved on November 16, 2009.
- Resolution No. 1113101. jeffparish.net. Retrieved on November 15, 2009.
- Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 22, 2011.