The History of the Juvenile Court for Caddo Parish

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The Juvenile Court for Caddo Parish was the second juvenile court established in Louisiana. First implemented in Orleans Parish in 1908, the juvenile court system empowered a special judge to enforce safeguards for the welfare of children. Subsequently, the Louisiana State Legislature passed an act in 1922 which provided for the creation of another juvenile court and a parish detention home for neglected and delinquent children that would be located in Caddo Parish.

In 1924 Earl H. Crane, a former Assistant District Attorney, became the first judge for the Juvenile Court for Caddo Parish. During Judge Crane’s six-year term from 1924 to 1930, the police jury acquired property on Murphy Street where the present Annex to City Hall is located. A brick cottage built on the property provided refuge for dependent and neglected children. A separate building behind the cottage had two additional rooms for the incarceration of children who needed maximum security detention. However, the Murphy Street Detention Home soon proved unsuitable for maximum security, and the Court moved juvenile detention to the Caddo Parish Jail

In 1930, Sanford C. Fullilove was elected as the second judge of the Juvenile Court. His service of only three years ended with his death in August of 1933. During his term, the court acquired from David Raines, a benevolent African-American citizen of Caddo Parish, a twenty-acre tract of land for the use and care of black children on what is now known as The Juvenile Road in the Martin Luther King area. A facility built on the donated property was named the David Raines Home in honor of his gift.

After Judge Fullilove’s death, the Governor immediately appointed William C. Barnett, Sr. to serve the unexpired portion of his predecessor’s term. Judge Barnett’s first full term which began in 1936 ended with his sudden death in 1939. The Governor then appointed Judge Barnett’s son, William “Chris” Barnett, Jr. to serve the remainder of his father’s term.

Chris Barnett was then elected for a full term in 1942. During this service from 1942 until his retirement in 1964, Judge Barnett witnessed the construction of a new two-story juvenile court facility. The top floor served as the detention home while the courtrooms were located on the lower level. The building would later house the Juvenile Division of the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office and adjoin the back of the present juvenile court complex.

At the regular election in 1966, Gorman E. Taylor was chosen to succeed Judge Barnett. Judge Taylor served until his retirement in 1994. However, in 1977 Judge Taylor witnessed new expansion in the judiciary with the legislative creation of a second judicial seat. Andrew B. Gallagher was elected to fill this seat in 1979.

In 1986 during Judge Taylor and Judge Gallagher’s concurrent terms, the Caddo Parish Commission appointed a citizen’s committee which studied the existing court building and subsequently recommended the construction by approving a Caddo Parish bond issue.

The new complex, consisting of the court house and detention center was dedicated in December 1990. Initially there were sixty-five employees, three separate courtrooms, the clerk of court’s office and the juvenile probation department. The detention center is a secure care facility and provides an in-house school program for incarcerated youth.

The Louisiana State Legislature expanded the judiciary in 1993 with the creation of a third judicial voting district. In 2010, the Caddo Parish Commission assumed operational control of the probation department and the detention center by creating a Department of Juvenile Services. Also, the Caddo Parish Clerk of Court assumed responsibility for the juvenile clerk’s office.