Lafayette City Court Judicial Candidates Speak at Lafayette Parish Bar Association Forum

Jules Edwards, Roya Boustany and Toby Aguillard at Lafayette Parish Bar Association Forum

Toby Aguillard, Roya Boustany, and Jules Edwards III met on October 13, 2022, at a forum sponsored by the Lafayette Parish Bar Association. Each had the opportunity to discuss their unique qualifications to serve as our newest Lafayette City Court Judge.

The Bar Association did not endorse any candidate and Discover Lafayette does not either; we are proud to make this forum available to the general public so that Lafayette residents can make an informed decision upon exercising their right to vote.

The election will take place on November 8. Early voting takes place at the Registrar of Voters Office from October 25 through November 1, 2022, from 8:30 am to 6 pm, excluding Sunday.

Each candidate offers extensive legal experience and a passion for public service. In this audience populated by local attorneys, the questions were a bit more technical than in a usual forum yet this podcast will give our listeners a chance to hear what drives each candidate.

Toby Aguillard has always felt called to public service. As a young man, he graduated from St. Joseph’s Seminary College, a Benedictine college and monastery in Covington, then followed his heart when he realized that marriage was important to him. He served as Lafayette City Police Chief under former Mayor-President Joel Robideaux. Toby worked as Deputy Sheriff for the Cameron and East Baton Rouge Sheriffs’ offices and following graduation from Southern University Law Center as a prosecutor in the DA’s office in Cameron Parish and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. He served as director of the Internet Crimes Division of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office immediately prior to his appointment as Chief in Lafayette. In order to build trust in the Lafayette community, he continued the community outreach program initially begun under former Deputy Chief Reginald Thomas, where officers walked door to door to meet with residents; he believes that these community outreach sessions gave him unique insights into how to deal with City Court litigants.

“My biggest challenge serving as Lafayette City Police Chief was the day that we lost Officer Michael Middlebrook. Everything came after that. There was an immediate firestorm over insurance benefits for his family. There were 300 police officers who were angry that Michael Middlebrook gave his life and his family lost their benefits immediately. It was about negotiating with the City Council and the Mayor-President to negotiate the issue. The Police Union was down my back and it was an extremely difficult time. But in a few days, we were able to smooth it out. I had to take a strong leadership role, telling my guys, ‘You have to trust me.’ And they did. My experience working with the budget as Chief will also be of great value to the City Court.” Toby Aguillard

Roya Boustany, the youngest candidate at 36 years of age and a graduate of Southern University Law Center, serves as a Chief Felony Prosecutor for District Attorney Don Landry. She recounted how she always wanted to be a prosecutor and wants to give both victims and defendants a voice. One young victim of rape at the age of 11 left a lasting impression upon Roya as the young girl stated that Roya was the first person to ever listen to her. Roya stays busy in court and has prosecuted many felony criminal cases, including those involving the gamut from theft to rape and murder. She previously served as Public Defender. Roya is extremely involved in leadership positions in the community, serving as President-elect of Junior League of Lafayette, President of the Lafayette Young Lawyers Association, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette XXXII, and Acadiana Center for the Arts Board member, among many other activities.

“I’ve handled thousands of cases as a prosecutor in my career. The judge needs to be an open-minded, fair, equitable, caring, and compassionate person. That is what we all want and expect. You expect someone to listen to you, and not have preconceived notions about you as a lawyer or your client. I give every single person that comes to talk to me (as a Prosecutor) every amount of respect, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. Working as a prosecutor has helped me develop that compassion.” Roya Boustany

Jules Edwards III is a graduate of Loyola Law School, and served as a Judge for the 15th Judicial District Court for 27 years.  He served in the military for 30 years, having enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve in college and retiring as a Louisiana Army National Guard Colonel. He served as Inspector General for the Army, working to ensure that the units were following proper procedures as he learned how to “speak his truth when standing up to superiors who may need to change their procedures.” He credits his time in the military for building his character, teaching him discipline, and instilling honor and integrity into his daily actions. Jules is focused on helping young troubled people and getting them on the right track before their first serious offense ends up leading them to a lifelong path of crime or what he calls the “Criminal Justice Elevator” where they may end up serving life sentences in prison. He sees serving as City Court Judge as an opportunity to be consistent while working with perpetrators of misdemeanors and get them on the path to leading a life of integrity. He also wants to produce videos to help people understand the role of the City Court Judge, the witnesses, and what you need to do when you show up for court….to “demystify the process of what happens.”

“I believe that justice is what love looks like in public and justice is giving to the other that which the other is due. I have had the pleasure of working with many young people from diverse backgrounds in the military as they honed their character, developed their virtues, reduced their vices, so that they could become the kind of people who had integrity.” Jules Edwards

All three candidates stressed the need to have adequate funding for upgrading the computer system and software utilized by the Lafayette City Court, which was implemented about 20 years ago. Similarly, all agreed that local nonprofits are an under-utilized resource that can be tapped into in partnership with City Court to offer rewarding opportunities for public service to criminal defendants. The three candidates praised the service of City Court Judge Doug Saloom and his staff, saying that the high-quality team is filled with dedicated employees who work together to accomplish their mission.

In closing, it is appropriate to include a quote from an audience member, Attorney Miles Matt who said, “I am proud that we have three such good quality candidates!” And he was right!

Please listen to this podcast to hear the nuances of each voice. Each candidate offers their own unique perspective and all are well-spoken and supportive members of our community. And please vote!! We thank Toby, Roya, and Jules for offering themselves up to serve as Lafayette City Court Judge!