Judge Jeff Cox was the guest speaker at the noon Lions Club meeting on June 1. He explained the general workings of the Louisiana court system and the importance of protecting the United States Constitution. Afterwards there was an opportunity to ask him questions.
Judge Cox graduated from Louisiana Tech, earned his MBA from LSU, earned a doctorate degree from Southern University, and received a law masters degree in taxation from SMU. Judge Cox has been serving as a judge since 2004.
“For about seven years, we were living under the Articles of Confederation, which caused us a lot of problems,” said Cox about the beginnings of the United States. “Our framers got together and developed our Constitution, which was a great Constitution. Think about it. We’ve only amended our Constitution 27 times. The first 10 were the Bill of Rights, talking about what rights we have as citizens of the United States.”
Next Cox asked the audience, “How many of you think criminals have too many rights? Think about this: We have the right to speak. We have the right to petition our government. We have the right to worship as we choose. We have the right to bear arms, which is in the second amendment. We have the right to be free from searches and seizures that are not supposed to happen in our house. We have the right to counsel if we go to court. We have the right to defense counsel. We have the right to reasonable bail. We have the right to a jury trial.” He then pointed out that these rights are not available in other countries, especially at the time that the Constitution was written.
“Most people would say, yes, criminals have too many rights,” said Cox. “But let me ask you this question: Of those rights that are in the Constitution, which one would you take away from yourself? If you were accused of a crime, wouldn’t you want those rights under the Constitution? The court system is designed to be able to protect those rights for you, and we have to elect good judges to be able to do that. We need people who believe in the Constitution, who believe in the rights that are guaranteed in that Constitution.”
At the city court level, everything from misdemeanors to civil cases under certain amounts and juvenile cases are heard. The district court level also handles juvenile court cases as well as civil cases that can reach into the multi-million dollar levels. Everything can go to one of the five appellate courts in the state. We are in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal, which is located in Shreveport. There are nine judges working for the 2nd Circuit including Judge Cox.
“Our appellate court handles the top 20 parishes of the state. So everything that goes through city courts all the way up to district courts comes to the appellate court. And I’m very honored to be your servant there.”
“We have to take every case that comes up. We cannot refuse any case that comes up to the appellate court level. If they appeal then we have to look at that appeal. If they don’t like the decision of the appellate court, they can go to the Louisiana Supreme Court.”
If you go to that level, however, your case may or may not be heard since the Supreme Court can choose which cases they will see.
“The Supreme Court does not have to take any case except two cases: one involving a constitutional issue or one involving a capital murder case where someone has gotten the death penalty,” said Cox. “So the appellate court may be a person’s last place to have their case heard.”
“The sacrifice that this country has made, the sacrifice that our veterans have made, the sacrifice that people have made for the Constitution means something. It means our rights and our freedoms, and we need to make sure that we elect people who understand that the Constitution is the bedrock of the principles of this country, and we always need to be grateful for the people who served and the sacrifices they made.”
The Lions Club meets at noon every Thursday in the American Legion Memorial Home which is located at 119 PIne Street.