Retired Louisiana Supreme Court chief justice dies, 87

December 21, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Retired Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr., who retired in 2008 after the longest tenure on the court in state history, died at the age of 87.

Calogero died Thursday, according to a news release from the court.

He was elected to four terms, serving for 36 years, and was chief justice for 18 years.

After retiring from the high court at the end of 2008, Calogero opened a firm specializing in appellate law.

He grew up in New Orleans and graduated first in his law class at Loyola University New Orleans in 1954. He then spent three years in the U.S. Army, first as a military police officer then in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

He was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1972, following work as a Civil District Court law clerk and 14 years in private practice.

During his tenure, he participated in more than 6,000 oral arguments and wrote more than 1,000 majority opinions, concurrences and dissents. He also was chief justice when the court began a live feed of oral arguments on the Internet.

The Louisiana Supreme Court issued a statement from Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, who reflected on Calogero’s passing.

“Today we lost a giant in our legal profession,” Johnson said. “I served with Justice Calogero for 14 years on the Supreme Court and during that time, I developed a deep respect for my colleague’s intellect, his integrity, and his dedication to fairness and justice. His contributions to Louisiana law and judicial administration are immeasurable.”

In 2007, the American Judicature Society, a national nonpartisan organization dedicated to the effective administration of justice, gave Calogero the Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence. The year after he retired from the Supreme Court, Loyola gave him its Integritas Vitae Award for high moral character in a lifetime of service, and in 2015 the ACLU of Louisiana gave him the Ben Smith Award for commitment to the advancement of civil liberties in Louisiana.

During his tenure as chief justice, the Louisiana Supreme Court moved from its modernistic building in the Civic Center to the Beaux Arts structure in the French Quarter. That marked a homecoming because the French Quarter building had been erected in 1908 to house the Supreme Court, along with other courts and state offices.

“Calogero was a total professional, a brilliant lawyer and a magnificent judge,” former Xavier University President Norman Francis, a friend since they were law students at Loyola, told NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune . “He was a talented, knowledgeable guy who followed through on whatever he had to do. He was the consummate judge in terms of intelligence and demeanor, and he always had a smile on his face.”

Calogero is survived by his wife, 10 children, and many grandchildren and other relatives.

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