318 E Boston St, Covington, Louisiana 70433

(985) 898-2755

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CASES

 

Most of my child abuse and domestic violence cases involve complex issues of statutory interpretation, appellate practice, due process, and procedural rules, but I have also handled other appeals involving different sorts of complicated and novel legal issues, and important constitutional rights. Very few attorneys have ever appeared in courtrooms in 46 states (counting Louisiana), and not many have won a case in the US Supreme Court on their first attempt. You can actually hear my Supreme Court argument here on behalf of two sexually abused girls in Ankenbrandt v. Richards, and read the 9-0 decision I won. That decision is so important, it is included and discussed in law school textbooks on jurisdiction and procedure in federal courts. You can also hear first hand my views against judicial activism and courts making, rather than interpreting the law:

https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/91-367

Also, here are some other of my appellate cases addressing different types of litigation:

https://www.dropbox.com/…/Seal%20v%20Gaylord%20Container%20…

https://www.dropbox.com/…/AADsch01…/Richey%20v%20Richey.pdf…

https://www.dropbox.com/…/Lam%20v%20State%20Dept%20of%20Tra…

 

In 1981, after only 2 1/2 years practicing law, I submitted the attached report (Page 16 has been lost to history) with my suggested reforms for the state's foster care system to the legislature. Most of my recommendations were enacted into law as a result. In 1987, Parade Magazine featured my work in its lead story, highlighting on the cover a child's move from foster care to adoption which I facilitated in Monroe. #ducoteforjustice

https://www.dropbox.com/…/4b8xey…/AAA8L0YxTJcK_GtOAf7JqTTHa…

https://www.dropbox.com/…/4b8xey…/AAA8L0YxTJcK_GtOAf7JqTTHa…

 

 In 1978, soon after taking my lawyer's oath, I met one of my first clients whom I was appointed to represent by the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court as part of a special program I started in conjunction with Tulane's law school. I was happily greeted by a very kind nun at the large entrance door of the St. Vincent's Infant Home. She led me into the nursery, and then to a crib. She smiled, telling me that I was the first lawyer they had seen there. She lifted the fragile abandoned child, only a few months old, and put him in my arms. She tiptoed out and quietly closed the door. As I sat in the dark, gently rocking this vulnerable baby - my client, with the rhythmic creaking of the chair the only sound, I knew my life's calling was sealed. Forty-one years, over two million miles, and 45 states later--in countless courtrooms, classrooms, legislatures, airplanes, hotels, rental cars, law libraries- I am very thankful for this vocation. I remember a sign in my kids' pediatrician's office: "Every newborn child carries the message that God has not yet given up on the world." #ducoteforjustice 

 

From 2008-2010, I was working on my LL.M. (Masters of Laws) degree, an advanced law degree few attorneys ever obtain, at Loyola Chicago School of Law. I would commute every week to Chicago to take courses, and teach my own class, and, if I was travelling for my cases, I would teach my own law students via video-conference. My LL.M. thesis, Fact-Based Custody Decisions: A Call for Family Court Judges To Reclaim Their Basic Adjudicatory Role, is posted on a National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' website. It will give you a chance to assess the level of thought, scholarship, and thoroughness I bring to my legal work, and my approach to how judges should do their job:

http://www.ncjfcj.org/…/Fact%20Based%20Custody%20Determinat…

#ducoteforjustice

 

#ducoteforjustice In the 1980's I created and directed a state-wide program to provide permanent adoptive homes for hundreds of kids lost in the foster care system. I typically drove all night from New Orleans to Shreveport to Monroe and back for trials in over 40 courts, and trained all of the foster care and adoption social workers in the state. I was named a Special Assistant District Attorney in 19 parishes. Here are just a few of the stories about these precious little lives, as told in the appellate court opinions:

https://ducotelaw.com/…/2…/11/In-the-interest-of-a-Minor.pdf

https://ducotelaw.com/…/…/11/In-the-Interest-of-CP-et-al.pdf

https://ducotelaw.com/…/u…/2017/11/In-the-interest-of-DL.pdf

https://ducotelaw.com/…/2017/11/In-the-interest-of-AE-and-J…

https://ducotelaw.com/…/State-of-Louisiana-v.-In-re-interes

 

In 2000, I helped a mom from Kenner whose son had been taken from her by a Tennessee judge with absolutely no notice and given to the prominent physician paternal grandparent with some local sway there in Chattanooga. I won on appeal in the attached decision. Judge Payne, whom I reversed, refused to comply with the appellate court's order, so I had to go back to the Court of Appeals and had him kicked off the case!

https://ducotelaw.com/…/u…/2017/11/Binghman-vs.-Binghman.pdf

 In the 2018 legislative session, two wonderful champion lawyers, Kim Sport and Professor Michelle Ghetti, and I rewrote much of the Louisiana child custody law to better protect abused children and their protective parents. Sponsored by Sen. Regina Barrow of Baton Rouge, and co-sponsored by a host of other legislators, the bill passed as Act 412 and was signed by Gov. Edwards on May 23, 2018. It has already been hailed as model legislation nationwide. Thank you Kim and Michelle, Sen. Barrow, and all of the advocates, parents, and legislators who got it done! #ducoteforjustice 


 

https://ducotelaw.com/…/uploads/2017/11/Velardo-v.-Ovitt.pdf

I won this case in the Vermont Supreme Court on behalf of a father who learned after the trial that the guardian ad litem and the judge were sisters, but they never disclosed that relationship. The Supreme Court justices were very unhappy with those shenanigans! #ducoteforjustice


 

Few lawyers are ever able to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court, which only takes a handful of the hundreds of cases presented to it each year. In 1992, I won the first case I ever took to the Court, 9-0. In Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 112 S.Ct. 2206, I represented 2 sexually abused girls and changed over 100 years of federal court rulings. You can read the Court's opinion here, and you can even listen to my oral argument. Copy and paste the url link, or you can just click on the Oyez.org

link below. The decision is so important that it is included and discussed in law school text books on federal courts and procedure. #ducoteforjustice

https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/91-367

 

 Judge Sol Gothard, first a social worker, then a juvenile court judge, then an appellate judge- what an inspiring life! He hired me as a juvenile probation officer in his Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court in 1975, then in 2015 I received the National Organization of Forensic Social Work Lifetime Achievement Award named in his honor. Thank you, Judge Gothard, for the very kind words, and the 43 years of support and friendship! As he explains, yes, some judges don't particularly like me-- why? Because I do my job! #ducoteforjustice 


 I was very happy to work very closely with Sen. Ryan Gatti drafting the language of the 2018 law that prevents older abused and neglected children from simply being tossed out of the system at age 18. In 1981, I wrote a comprehensive package of successful legislation to reform the foster care system, and in the 1980's as a Special Assistant District Attorney directing a special statewide project I worked tirelessly to move hundreds of kids from foster homes into adoptive families. #ducoteforjustice 

In an earlier post, I recalled a sign in my kids' pediatrician's office, "Every newborn baby carries the message that God has not yet given up on the world." There are now appalling efforts in several states to legalize infanticide. In Louisiana in the 1980's, I took the initiative to write three new laws which were enacted by the Legislature to prevent the murder of babies. You can read them here, with the wording slightly changed when they were incorporated into the Children's Code:

http://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?p=y&d=73011

http://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=73012

http://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=73017

 

 

How important is a single Supreme Court Justice? Look at this case. In 2001-2003, I represented a Baton Rouge nurse whose ex-husband is a "prominent" Baton Rouge anesthesiologist (MD). I have seen far too many despicable things in my career, and this guy Ostrowe is in his own category. While they were still married, he orchestrated her genital mutilation by one of his doctor buddies, and then kept her drugged up for weeks afterwards so she wouldn't know what happened! The judge who tried the case only ordered Ostrowe to pay her $35,000. Here is the decision in the appeal I took on her behalf-- the appellate court increased the judgment to $125,000.

https://www.dropbox.com/…/4b8xey…/AAA8L0YxTJcK_GtOAf7JqTTHa…


I still believed that amount was still much too low for what she suffered. I then applied for a writ of certiorari to the Louisiana Supreme Court asking them to make Ostrowe pay her even more money for the horrible things he had done to her. On February 7, 2003, The Supreme Court voted 4-3 against taking up the case. 836 So.2d 107. Chief Justice Calogero and the two female Justices Johnson and Knoll voted in favor of Ms. Turner's application; the other four male Justices voted against her. One other justice would have made the difference! Oh, by the way the State Board of Medical Examiners looked the other way and he is still practicing.

In an earlier post today, I explained the Turner v. Ostrowe case finding that Baton Rouge physician Alan J. Ostrowe engineered his wife's genital mutilation. Ostrowe was "inspired" by Ohio butcher/gynecologist James Burt, who actually published a book, "Surgery of Love", explaining how it was his mission to "correct" female anatomy. You can read about Burt's surgical terrorism here:

https://www.medicalbag.com/…/the-love-surge…/article/472376/

#ducoteforjusti

How important is a single Supreme Court Justice? Look at this case. In 2001-2003, I represented a Baton Rouge nurse whose ex-husband is a "prominent" Baton Rouge anesthesiologist (MD). I have seen far too many despicable things in my career, and this guy Ostrowe is in his own category. While they were still married, he orchestrated her genital mutilation by one of his doctor buddies, and then kept her drugged up for weeks afterwards so she wouldn't know what happened! The judge who tried the case only ordered Ostrowe to pay her $35,000. Here is the decision in the appeal I took on her behalf-- the appellate court increased the judgment to $125,000.

https://www.dropbox.com/…/4b8xey…/AAA8L0YxTJcK_GtOAf7JqTTHa…

I still believed that amount was still much too low for what she suffered. I then applied for a writ of certiorari to the Louisiana Supreme Court asking them to make Ostrowe pay her even more money for the horrible things he had done to her. On February 7, 2003, The Supreme Court voted 4-3 against taking up the case. 836 So.2d 107. Chief Justice Calogero and the two female Justices Johnson and Knoll voted in favor of Ms. Turner's application; the other four male Justices voted against her. One other justice would have made the difference! Oh, by the way the State Board of Medical Examiners looked the other way and he is still practicing.

Ostrowe was inspired to arrange for his wife's mutilation by the Ohio butcher "Dr." James Burt, who actually published a book, "The Love Surgery", describing how he discovered that it was his job to "correctly" structure the female anatomy. You can read about the evil James Burt here:

https://www.medicalbag.com/…/the-love-surge…/article/472376/

 

 A 2006 Newsweek article discusses a problem on which I have spent so very much time and energy, and over which I have experienced so much frustration with our family courts. One would think that by now all judges and mental health professionals would understand that this family abuse is far too common, and that mothers of abused kids are put in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation by the judges in the divorce courts. The article rightfully blames a large part of this on the discredited psychiatrist Richard Gardner. In a New Jersey courtroom, I was the last attorney to cross-examine Gardner shortly before he committed suicide. #ducoteforjustice 

https://scontent-dfw5-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/54279176_2232539460173913_5286808749409828864_n.jpg?_nc_cat=111&_nc_ht=scontent-dfw5-1.xx&oh=3e711077eb0caaf5e80001bb2ef06d03&oe=5D25F794

 

As I explained in my February 21 post, in 1991 I sat down at my dinner table and wrote the Louisiana Post-Separation Family Violence Relief Act (PSFVRA), which was enacted by the Legislature without opposition as the first law in the nation which prohibited violent parents from getting custody of their kids, and which forced the abusive parent to pay all attorney's fees, costs, etc, and restricted them to supervised visitation. In 2000, I won on appeal the case of Lewis v. Lewis, a terrible abuse case where the judge had refused to apply the PSFVRA. You can read that case in the February 21 post:

https://www.dropbox.com/…/4b8xey…/AAA8L0YxTJcK_GtOAf7JqTTHa…

Then, during the 2018 Louisiana Legislature I worked with attorneys Kim Sport and Michelle Ghetti to successfully re-write the state's child custody laws to strengthen the protections for child abuse and domestic violence victims, and to merge the PSFVRA into the other custody statutes. Those reforms became Act 412 (Reg. Session, 2018), and went into effect May 23, 2018. The First Circuit Court of Appeal just decided a case a few days ago which I was very happy and gratified to read. In that case, an abused mother who had no lawyer was able to use both the PSVFRA and the provisions of the new Act 412 to fully protect her child, with the judges applying the laws exactly as they were designed to work. You can read the new case here, and see in particular footnote 6:

https://www.la-fcca.org/…/2018%20CU%201603%20Decision%20App…

I am very grateful to have been able to contribute to the protections extended to this mother and child, and reading this outcome makes all of the long hours over the years very worthwhile.-Richard Ducote. Please consider electing me the the Louisiana Supreme Court.#ducoteforjustice ducoteforjustice.com

 

 https://www.la-fcca.org/opiniongrid/opinionpdf/2018%20CU%201603%20Decision%20Appeal.pdf?fbclid=IwAR18VWWhWs4D9Mbx_7YT5kliVFZ-gRybgS3nUM3IntQ8Y6McXYQaE7WaUOw