JEFFERSON PARISH, La. - In Jefferson Parish, two candidates are in a runoff for judge and big bucks are being spent in the race between attorneys Hilary Landry and Scott Schlegel.
Civilians can see the signs that the election is heated all over Jefferson Parish with campaign signs on just about every other corner.
Landry has also taken her campaign to the airwaves running TV ads, and the race between the two is getting ugly. It’s far from a phenomenon in a judicial race, according to WWL-TV Political Analyst Clancy DuBos.
“Landry also expected to run first in the primary and she ran second and it wasn't that close. So, when you're second and you have a lot of money, you need to go on the attack and that's what she's doing,” DuBos said.
Schlegel was the leader in the primary, securing 36 percent of the vote to Landry’s 27 percent.
Landry has a family law practice and worked as a part-time prosecutor in Jefferson Parish's drug court. Schlegel was a full-time prosecutor until he resigned to run for judge.
“If we're running on the strength of our qualities of professionals and on the strength of our experience, I think it's my responsibility to compare the two,” Landry said.
“I think these are a desperate attempt from my opponent to distract from the trial experience that she lacks,” Schlegel said.
Landry is running a TV ad and sending out flyers featuring a woman named Cathy Jacob. Schlegel dismissed a case against her ex-husband and the ad insinuates Schlegel did it willingly, without giving her adequate notice and without taking the case seriously. It was a charge that her ex-husband violated a protective order. Schlegel said the case screener didn’t file the charge in time, and by law, he had to dismiss it.
A Landry campaign flyer quotes an email exchange between Schlegel and Jacob as saying, “Had I been notified of this past Monday’s court date and tomorrow’s court date for Rickie G. Jacob, as required by Victim’s Rights Laws, I would’ve been able to make arrangement to take off work and be in court.”
Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the email exchange and the entire sentence reads, “By no fault of yours, had I been notified of this past Monday’s court date and tomorrow’s court date for Rickie G. Jacob, as required by Victim’s Rights Laws, I would have been able to make arrangement to take off work and be in court.”
It’s an omission that Schlegel has said is essential.
“The knock on him from the person in the commercial is he dropped the ball in a domestic abuse case, the knock on her is she has never tried a case before a judge or a jury from beginning to end,” said DuBos.
Jacob was also featured in another political campaign for another judicial candidate in 2007. She is featured as a domestic abuse victim who supports having a female on the bench. Landry said the fact that she participated in two campaign ads is irrelevant because Jacob approached Landry and her political consultant in the other race for different reasons.
But the content of the Landry ad featuring Jacob, Dubos says, isn't necessarily as important as the money game in the race. “Even an attack that is not necessarily right on target can have a big impact if it's not answered,” he said.
Landry is also highlighting the differences in their experience in other television ads. Plus, she alleges that Schlegel has been spreading misinformation about her through his supporters and through online and social media. It's a charge Schlegel strongly denies, saying he's proud of the positive, grassroots campaign he has run.