Retired judge to encourage grads

The Spring 2013 graduation ceremony will recognize approximately 1,250 graduates who will be addressed by commencement speaker retired First Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Burrell J. Carter. Carter has served on the bench for 38 years and is the longest serving judge in Louisiana. He started as chief judge in 1999 and retired in January 2013.
A graduate of Louisiana State University Law School Carter has no college undergraduate degree because in the 1950s LSU allowed students to enroll if they accumulated 100 hours.
“In two years, I had my 100 hours,” Carter said. “And I got into law school. My total college career was five years.”
While at LSU he was chosen as an editor for the Louisiana Law Review. The literary magazine is written by law students and faculty, so students selected are automatically put into a prestigious position. Carter worked there from 1955 to 1958, and through his time there, he noticed inconsistencies in the law system, which was a vehicle for him to make a difference as a lawyer and judge. He hoped for his writing to help lawyers and judges.
“There were inconsistencies then,” Carter said, “and there are inconsistencies now, but we all work collectively to try and make it better. It was an honor and a privilege to be on the law review.”
Carter also served in the U.S. Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, and the Basic Army Administration School, where he received two degrees. There he learned the foundation of being a judge.
“One of the basic things the military taught me was leadership,” Carter said. “You can only lead by example. You have to set the example, and you have to be willing to step out front and take the heat if it’s necessary.”
The Greensburg native decided he wanted to enter the law system from a very young age. His father, the late Robert T. Carter, was one of the only lawyers in the rural St. Helena Parish for over 25 years. He passed away in 1939 when Carter was four years old. His mother kept many of his father’s records and abstracts, so he had a lot to motivate and inspire him as he grew up.
“My father had been a lawyer, and I wanted to be a lawyer, too,” said Carter.
Carter is still dedicated on bettering his community. Currently he is semi-retired specifically because of his urge to always help people in need. His college career taught him one thing, and that is to always prepare for failure and learn from it.  
“Continuing through is the key to unlocking the potential in a lot of cases,” Carter said. “The attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference.”
The commencement ceremony will begin on Saturday, May 18 at 10 a.m.