David Hammer / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS-- Mayor Mitch Landrieu's wife, Cheryl, has been appointed to take over as clerk of court for the state's Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal in January.

The Gretna-based appeals court judges appointed her in September, but had not announced the decision publicly.

With the appointment, Cheryl Landrieu's salary will go from $88,828.32 to $125,964.48, a 42 percent increase.

That amount is set by the Supreme Court and is the same salary outgoing clerk Peter Fitzgerald Jr. was making after 26 years as the Fifth Circuit clerk. He is retiring after 30 years total in the Fifth Circuit clerk's office.

Cheryl Landrieu, who is an attorney, has been serving as a research clerk for Judge Walter Rothschild at the same court since 2001.

Before that, she served in similar law clerk positions for judges at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, which covers Orleans Parish.

The court is going to lose its longtime clerk and three of its eight judges in January, so Chief Judge Marion Edwards said it was important to hire someone from within.

Edwards said the judges also wanted an attorney for the post, even though that is not an official requirement. He said several of the judges' law clerks were good candidates for the job, but Landrieu stood out.

'Our clerks are really essential to what we do,' he said. 'We couldn't deal with the volume of work that we do without them, and she's done a super job for Judge Rothschild.'

Edwards said he understood that questions would arise about the appointment because she's the wife of the mayor of New Orleans.

'We just didn't feel it would be fair to her to hold the fact that her husband is mayor of city of New Orleans against her,' Edwards said. 'She was the best choice considering her qualifications along with everyone else's.'

Mayoral spokesman Ryan Berni said Landrieu is excited about the appointment. He said she's been a lawyer for 27 years, got her juris doctorate from Loyola Law School and will start her new job Jan. 2.

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