Three candidates vying for clerk of New Orleans 2nd City Court | Local elections

The three candidates vying to be the next clerk of the 2nd Municipal Court of Algiers have all promised to bring the court into the digital age – something lawyers say is necessary to protect defendants and landlords in the growing number of eviction cases in New Orleans.

Jordan Bridges, Lisa Ray Diggs and Kenneth Cutno will compete for the job.

The election will take place on March 26. Early voting begins March 12.

Whoever wins the election will replace longtime clerk Darren Lombard, who is stepping down after winning election as clerk of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

The Clerk’s Office of the 2nd City Court maintains civil suit and small claims records, as well as residential and commercial property eviction records, on the West Bank of New Orleans.

The court – along with the 1st City Court, which handles cases on the East Bank – has recently been in the spotlight as the pandemic has raised the prospect of increased evictions as some struggle to work or pay their rent.

“The evictions are just one piece of the bigger puzzle out there,” said Christoph Bajewski, an attorney representing the landlords. “The biggest problem is technology.”

Hannah Adams, a staff attorney with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, agreed and said attorneys looking for records have to go to court, which is more time-consuming than being able to quickly view them online. .

City Court 1 began digitizing records in 2014, its clerk, Austin Badon, said. He said security was a top priority as the court moves its records online. “As you start digitizing and releasing personal information out into the universe, you need to do everything you can to make sure it’s as secure as possible,” Badon said.

Bridges of Jordan

Bridges, 34, is from Algiers. He graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans and has worked as a program director at the New Orleans Council for Community Injustice since 2103. Recently, Bridges started his own digital consultancy aimed at helping “people maximize their online presence. line,” he mentioned.

Bridges of Jordan.

In 2021, Bridges ran unsuccessfully against Delisha Boyd in the race for the 102nd district seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Bridges co-founded Alger Proud, a “decentralized community care organization” that connects residents of Algiers and New Orleans via text for relief as well as opportunities for help. According to the website, people can text “rescue” to the hotline to be connected with support, or “wheels” to sign up as a community delivery driver.

Bridges said his digital savvy will help him usher the 2nd City Court into a new era of technology – an era he says is needed to avoid unnecessary evictions in cases where people are “busy catching up their delay” because they cannot easily or quickly access their records. in line.

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“If you don’t have a knowledge base of what it takes to run a data management system, you can’t know what works and what the community needs,” Bridges said. “My work speaks for itself, as it is currently touring with Alger Proud.”

Kenneth Cutno

Cutno, 65, a housing consultant, graduated from Southern University of Baton Rouge. Cutno grew up in New Orleans, but worked statewide, including as Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for Ascension Parish, serving as a liaison with former Governor Edwin Edwards and deputy director of seniors’ affairs for the city of Boston.

Kenneth Cutno

Kenneth Cutno.

Cutno ran and lost twice to New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno for the Division 1 General Council seat.

Cutno said in a written statement that “one of the biggest challenges facing people trying to fight evictions in Algiers is that the court in the 2nd city does not have digital records,” which can make that more people “fall through the cracks”. .This may very well open up the possibility of more crimes from citizens who [may] be in a position to face homelessness.

His statement added: “I want to make resource and eviction information easily accessible by putting records online. Basically, by stopping the crime and doing [the] The community of Algiers is safe, we keep the citizens of Algiers housed by giving them all available resources.

Lisa Ray Digg

Diggs, 52, grew up in Algiers. She attended Southern University in New Orleans, where she earned a degree in accounting. She worked for more than 20 years as a chief financial officer for ETI, a facilities support services provider headquartered in New Orleans, before starting a consulting company in 2019. She is chair of the executive committee democratic of the parish of Orléans.

Lisa Ray Digg

Lisa Ray Digg

Diggs has participated in several leadership programs, she said, taking classes at the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute and the Institute of Politics at Loyola University.

Diggs pointed to the need for a content management system, or CMS, as the biggest issue facing the 2nd City Court. She said a CMS that meets the needs of the community would be one that gives “citizens the ability to go online and pay their fees, and track their cases online,” adding that her work with systems accountants will help lead a team to build the CMS.

She also promised, if elected, to provide “workshops to help tenants know how not to lose their homes” and in-court notary services at no cost to residents.

“I’ve already partnered with lawyers across the city [who] are ready to do community service, so that I can offer the citizens of Algiers the possibility of obtaining notary services two days a week,” she said.

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