Marcel Livaudais, Jr. served as a United States Magistrate for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1977 to 1984. In 1984, he became a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana upon the nomination of President Ronald Regan. He assumed senior status on December 31, 1996, and served in that capacity until his retirement on December 31, 2008. He died on February 9, 2009. He was married to the former Carol Black, who predeceased him, and he had three children, two of whom are practicing attorneys in New Orleans.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 3, 1925, Judge Livaudais was a lifelong New Orleanian. He received a B.A. from Tulane University in 1945 in Naval Science and a J.D. from Tulane Law School in 1949. He was a Commissioned Ensign in the United States Navy during World War II from 1943 to 1946. He was in private practice in New Orleans from 1949 to 1950, returning to the Navy as a Lieutenant (J.G.) from 1950 to 1952. During the Korean War, Judge Livaudais served as a Lieutenant on a U.S. Navy destroyer and during active duty he also served in China. He resumed his private practice in New Orleans until 1977, when he became a United States Magistrate.
During his long and distinguished career as a jurist, Judge Livaudais was known in the legal community for his intelligence, courtesy and judicial temperament. He presided over several high profile cases while on the bench, most notably the first two criminal trials of former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. Edwards was charged with mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and bribery. The charges centered around an alleged scheme in which Edwards and his associates received money in exchange for granting preferential treatment to companies dealing with state hospitals. The first trial, in 1985, ended in a deadlocked jury, and the 1986 trial resulted in an acquittal for Edwards and his co-defendants. The cases received a significant amount of media attention throughout the country. United States District Judge Helen G. Berrigan was a defense attorney who acted as co-counsel for Edwards during the trials. When asked about Judge Livaudais’ demeanor during the cases, Judge Berrigan said that “he handled everybody with such grace and such calmness that I think he kept the case from getting out of control.”
Other notable cases over which he presided included the criminal trial of Walton Aucoin and Harry Connick, Sr., the District Attorney for Orleans Parish. Aucoin was convicted of charges associated with operating a gambling enterprise, and Connick, who as charged with aiding and abetting the gambling operation by returning gambling records to an arrested gambler, was acquitted of all charges. Judge Livaudais also provided over In Re Prudential-Bache Energy Income Partnerships, Inc., a large civil multi-district securities litigation case; and, In Re P& E Boat Rentals, Inc., a civil maritime case involving several deaths and injuries to men whose crew boats collided in the fog while heading to an oil rig.
Judge Livaudais was a close friend and mentor to all of his law clerks, one of whom reported that he always reminded them to “love many, trust a few and always paddle your own canoe.”
© United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana