Just over four months into his new role as Caddo Parish District Attorney, retired 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal Judge James E. Stewart Sr. offers reflections on the change his life has taken since he moved from the bench to the front lines of the fight against crime.
“Public service is a calling,” he says in his third-floor office in the Bickham Building, across Marshall Street from the Caddo Parish Courthouse where he once presided and where he still often attends proceedings. He said he savors the opportunity to serve the community, prosecute those who scoff at the law “and still help those in need at the same time.”
The youngest of three sons of retired postal carrier Richard Stewart Sr. and his wife, Corine, he served first as an assistant Shreveport city attorney, then as an assistant district attorney and first assistant DA in the system he now heads, followed by almost four years on the First District bench before his election as an appellate judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeal.
Serving as the District Attorney brings him closer to the bedrock from which he sprang in August 1955.
“This is a more hands-on job,” he said. “There’s more interaction with the public, more opportunities to serve the public in a more excellent way. You can have a direct impact on the lives of people each and every day.”
The interaction with people and feeling the pulse of the legal life of the parish he serves helps him grow and groom his post as successor to the late Judge Charles Scott, who died 11 months ago.
“I’ll be better able to ascertain their immediate needs,’ he said, “and still have long-term goals and plans for criminal justice reform.”