Verity Gentry was sworn in as 11th Judicial District Judge for Sabine Parish on Sept. 6. Mayor Many Robert Hable spoke, thanking all judges for their hard work, particularly outgoing Judge Stephen Beasley, who was first elected to the position in 1995. Beasley performed the swearing in ceremony for Gentry.
“I’m so humbled by the crowd and I’m so thankful for all of you being here today,” said Gentry. She thanked judges Pickett and Beasley for the experience they gave her by seeing them both at work and for the judicial legacy they’ve left her.
Among the speakers was Elizabeth Pickett, third circuit court of appeal judge, and the first woman judge in the state of Louisiana, West of Alexandria. Giving advice to anyone in the legal profession, she said, “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).”
Pickett has watched Verity grow from a bright little girl into the accomplished attorney she is today. She’s had a lot of corporate experience all over the state. This will benefit her as a trial judge.
“Verity is a person of integrity,” Pickett added. “She’s honest. She has an excellent work ethic. She has a lot of energy.”
The justice system is the cornerstone of society. All its members take an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of the United States and the state of Louisiana. This carries a lot of responsibility. What happens in the courtroom matters. It might not be the biggest case on the docket, but it can be the biggest moment in that person’s life.
Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell talked about how his office interacts with the court. In the 26 months he’s been sheriff they’ve confiscated 23.5 pounds of methamphetamine and over 50 guns. Things are a little better and thefts are down and he looks forward to working with Verity as the new judge.
Sabine Parish District Attorney Don Burkett said wisdom to know what to do and courage to do it are needed to work within the court system.
“Evil must always be held accountable,” he said. “The future of Sabine Parish depends on you.”
Senator Louie Bernard has a bird’s eye view of the judicial system and its many complexities. He’s been able to learn through his interactions with the judges, that of all the elected officials in Louisiana, a judge is unique. Judges are not afforded the luxury of explaining the reasoning behind their decisions. This means being a judge can be a lonely and isolating job. Because of this reality, judges must be trustworthy and must have the highest standards of integrity in both their personal and professional lives. A judge must be the conscience of the people.
“They have more opportunity to make a difference than any other public servant,” said Bernard. “Not just by the rendering of their decisions but by the innovative creations they are able to employ in the way of programs that can help people who come through the judicial system.”