Tracking Louisiana´s Legal Heritage:
 Celebrating 200 Years of the Federal Courts in Louisiana

District Judge Roger Blake West

Roger Blake West served as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1971, until his death on January 24, 1978. On April 14, 1971, President Richard Nixon nominated Judge West to fill a new seat on the court created by 84 Stat. 294. Judge West was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 18, 1971, and received his commission on June 22, 1971.

Judge West was born on May 10, 1928, in New Orleans, Louisiana. A lifelong New Orleanian, he graduated from the Isidore Newman School in 1945, as a member of the National Honor Society. He received a B.A. from Tulane University in 1949. In 1951, he graduated as an Order of the Coif with a LL.B. from Tulane Law School. Judge West’s friends established a scholarship in his name at Tulane Law School. At Tulane he was a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa, honorary leadership fraternity; Kappa Delta Tau, Tulane service fraternity; Phi Delta Phi, legal fraternity; and editor of the Tulane Law Review. Judge West practiced law in New Orleans from 1951 to 1971, and became a prominent trial attorney and partner at Phelps, Dunbar, Marks, Claverie & Sims, prior to his appointment to the federal bench.

Judge West participated in numerous civic, community, church, and professional activities. He served on the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Bureau of Governmental Research, the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, the Southern Eye Bank, the Chamber of Commerce of the New Orleans area, and the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the Louisiana Bar Association, the New Orleans Bar Association, the American Juricature Society, the International Association of Insurance Counsel, and the New Orleans Associations of Defense Counsel. For many years, Judge West was Chairman of the Constitutional Law and Conflicts of Laws Section of the Bar Examining Committee of the Louisiana Bar Association. Judge West was also a deacon and ruling elder at the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church where he regularly taught Sunday School.

In the late 1970's Judge West presided over a Bowman v. Landrieu, a case filed on behalf of street musicians alleging that a city ordinance that banned them from parts of the French Quarter was unconstitutional. The attorneys argued that the ordinance denied musicians "their rights to free exercise of speech through the playing of music." Judge West agreed and issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the ordinance. Although the case was not reported, the decision was one of the first of its kind to protect music as a form of speech.