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Judge Marilyn Castle: Women's History Month Spotlight

Posted at 6:40 PM, Mar 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 08:04:53-04

Judge Marilyn Castle is known as a pioneer in the 15th Judicial System, opening doors for women to take roles in Lafayette and around Acadiana.

In this women's history month spotlight, Castle Shares with KATC how she paved the way for women in law.

“I grew up in the 60s, so there were not a lot of female lawyers,” Castle said.

Judge Marilyn Castle currently serves as the Chief Judge of the 15th Judicial District covering Acadia, Lafayette, and Vermilion parishes.

Castle was fist elected onto the bench in November of 1998. She graduated from Louisiana State University Law Center in 1976. Before serving as Assistant District Attorney from 1976 to 1979.

“I had a mother who encouraged her three daughters to strive for anything they wanted to do and made us believe we could do it. I realize that at that point in history, there weren't a whole lot of women that aspired to do that but I credit her for given us the confidence to do it,” Castle said.

Castle was the first woman to serve as president of the Lafayette Parish Bar Association.

“It was 1990 and that was a good time and since then we’ve had many many female presidents since then,” Castle said.

Castle was the first woman to serve as President of the Lafayette Parish Bar Association.

“It was 1990 and since then we’ve had many female presidents of the Bar Association,” Castle said.

She practiced as a lawyer for 22 years before holding the gavel, in which she had to adjust.

“Once I made the transition, it was a process because you have to change your role from that of an advocate to that of the neutral party that's going to decide the case and so it takes some adjusting to do that,” Castle said.

Castle was also a founding master of the John M. Duhe chapter of the American Inns of Court and served as a member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee for Lafayette Parish and also served as president of the district judges association while being a member of the inaugural class of the Louisiana Judicial Leadership.

One of her most memorable moments was her kids supporting her through the process.

“My son's birthday was October second and October third was election day. So it was the first time my son could vote, he voted for me,” Castle said.

She reflects on the time her daughter saw her in the robe for the first time.

“My daughter said mom this isn't very flattering and I just said..it’s not the robe's job to flatter me but it’s my job to flatter the robe,” Castle said.

Castle will be retiring at the end of the year, closing out a 25-year career on the bench in the 15th judicial district.

According to our partners at the Advocate, Castle was unopposed when she last ran for reelection in 2020. Her current term is slated to end on Dec. 31, 2026. The district court judge said in a statement she was announcing her retirement now so the election to fill her seat can take place during the regular fall election in October. The Louisiana Secretary of State has been notified of her planned retirement.

“I’m not going to completely walk away from doing things I'm doing now but it will just, I think, allow for a lot more flexibility and a lot more time to sort of travel and spend time with my family, and do things that I really like to do. I'm not completely walking away. I'm just backing off a little bit,” Castle said.

“My advice to anyone that is pursuing any career or any path is always try your best and you know, if it's meant for you it will work out,” Castle said.

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