Burmaster wins seat on Jefferson Juvenile Court

Republican Barron Burmaster was elected to Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court on Saturday, handily defeating Democrat Zoe Fleming. Burmaster received 68 percent of the vote.

Baron Burmaster, left, and Zoe Fleming
Baron Burmaster, left, and Zoe Fleming

Turnout was a paltry 5.9 percent.

Burmaster has spent 14 years in Juvenile Court as a prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office and had the backing of much of the parish’s political establishment.

He will replace Nancy Amato Konrad, who retired last month after more than 30 years as the Section C judge.

Burmaster joins Andrea Price Janzen and Ann Murry Keller on the bench and will be the first man to serve in Juvenile Court since 1996.

His opponent, Fleming, has been practicing law in the court for three decades.

Burmaster ran on his 22 years as an assistant district attorney in Jefferson and his 14 years as a prosecutor in Juvenile Court. He also touted the administrative experience he gained from six years as executive assistant district attorney.

His platform included reviewing the court’s administration and expenses for better efficiency and increasing the number of days the court deals with probation violations.

He also advocated creating a dual-sentencing model that would allow juvenile offenders facing mid-level charges, such as battery or assault, to be given a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence at the same time, with the adult sentence serving as an incentive to complete treatments and therapies.

Burmaster was endorsed by the Jefferson chapter of the Alliance for Good Government, Jefferson Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, Republican Party of Jefferson Parish, The Louisiana Weekly, Crimefighters and The Times-Picayune.

Fleming, who has been a foster mother, pointed to her three decades practicing law within the juvenile system and tried to paint Burmaster as part of the Jefferson Parish political machine.

She hit hard toward the end of the campaign, highlighting a campaign contribution Burmaster received from the controversial River Birch landfill company; the felony arrest of a minister Burmaster hired to hand out campaign literature in African-American neighborhoods; and claims that Burmaster supporters were taking down her campaign signs, sometimes sawing them off at the posts.

On the other side, it was revealed that Fleming struggled with mental illness in the past, including the voluntary, but temporary, suspension of her law license and a diagnosis of manic depression.

Although they practice largely out of the public eye, Juvenile Court judges handle a wide range of cases, including young people accused of crime, children abused by their families, adoption cases, child support and other matters.