An investiture ceremony was held today for Judge Valerie Gotch Garrett.
Gotch Garrett won the December 5 run-off for the Division B race in the 15th Judicial District Court. She's already been "officially" sworn in, but tonight she returned to the church where she announced her campaign in 2019, Destiny of Faith Church, to be sworn in again before the community.
Gotch Garrett was elected to replace Judge Jules Edwards, who retired from the 15th JDC.
"I'm the first African American female to sit in this seat, and it's breathtaking," Gotch Garrett said after the ceremony.
We asked her why it's important to see a woman of color on the bench.
"We have a part of the community, and its history, that we know," she said. "We see things differently. Justice should be blind, unfortunately it is not. I think that because I am a woman of color, i bring a different vantage point, a different viewpoint that maybe is not always seen, and I think that's important, that everyone gets an opportunity to be seen and heard, especially people of color and diverse backgrounds."
Gotch Garrett said with the year we've just had, this community needs healing and unity. Everyone needs to see someone like them in decision-making positions.
"It's important to have some understanding and compassion at the courthouse," she said.
Gotch Garrett said the highlight of tonight's ceremony was receiving her grandmother's cameo ring, which she played with as a child. It reminded her of "the elders who have gone before me, whose shoulders I stand on."
She said she was honored that the people of the community decided to support her and vote for her.
"I'm so honored and humbled," she said. "I'm grateful and I can't wait to get to work."
Gotch Garrett has been a lawyer in Lafayette for more than 25 years, practicing family, criminal defense, and personal injury law. She's been a Federal Public Defender and a 15th Judicial District Public Defender, handling Juvenile, Capital, Felony and Misdemeanor cases. She has also handled Appellate work for both the 5th Circuit and the Louisiana State Courts.
In the community, she has served on the United Way’s Advisory Women Committee, the Autism Society of Acadiana’s Board of Directors, has been named one of Lafayette’s Women Who Means Business, received the 2016 Lafayette Committee on the Needs of Women Founder’s Award and the 2016 Trailblazer Award. She was chair of the Lafayette Airport Commission for two years.
If you'd like to watch the whole ceremony, here's a post of the investiture from Destiny of Faith Church. If you can't see it below, try clicking here.