At the investiture of Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, Pat Vance’s opening remarks, “May it please the Court”, brought cheers of delight from a crowd of over 1,000 well-wishers gathered outside the Louisiana Supreme Court building on Royal St. in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Mr. Vance, past president of the New Orleans Bar Association and the recently elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, shared the greetings and congratulations from the New Orleans Bar Association and the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. As a token of respect and a memento of the historic occasion, Mr. Vance presented Chief Justice Johnson with a statue of Lady Justice.
Mr. Vance’s remarks:
" May it please the Court, Chief Justice Johnson, family and friends, members of the judiciary, and other distinguished dignitaries. I am most honored to be here today with two hats on, so to speak. I am the immediate past president of the New Orleans Bar Association and I am the recently elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. I bring greetings and congratulations on behalf of the 3,000 members of the New Orleans Bar Association, an organization in which Justice Johnson has contributed to in many ways over the years and of which she is a Fleur De Lis member. Likewise, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services sends its best wishes. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services is the successor of NOLAC, which is comprised of over 100 lawyers who perform civil legal work for the indigent in 22 parishes in Southeast Louisiana. Justice Johnson started her distinguished legal career many years ago as a public interest lawyer for NOLAC where she initially served as a staff attorney and ultimately became the managing attorney. She handled over 3,000 cases while at NOLAC in a short five years. Her efforts as a lawyer and a jurist were recognized in 1992 at NOLAC’s 25th anniversary banquet, when she was awarded that organization’s first Ernest N. Morial Award.
So on this historic and solemn occasion, I stand before you today as a representative of these two organizations - to which the Chief has very close ties - to express our affection, well wishes and pride in your accomplishments.
The New Orleans Bar Association has had a long and fruitful relationship not only with Chief Justice Johnson, but with the state judiciary. We are most grateful that the judges on this distinguished bench have for years participated in our activities. The interaction between the bench and the bar fosters mutual respect and understanding, and uplifts the standard of legal practice in our communities.
We look forward to your honor’s continued participation in these traditions as our Chief. If history is any indication of the future, the perspective that you will bring will make us all better lawyers and stewards of our incomparable legal system.
However, I did not come today with just words of praise. I am bearing a gift. I am most pleased to present to you, Chief Justice Johnson, this statute of Lady Justice, as a token of our respect and as a memento of this historic day. When you look at her in the years to come, blindfolded and holding the sword and scales of justice, we hope it will be a stirring reminder of today’s happy ceremony. Congratulations to you and your family as you take your place in history as the Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. And thank you for allowing me to be a part of this very special day."