Retired Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr. dies at 87

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Retired Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr.

Louisiana Supreme Court retired Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., 87, died on December 20, 2018. Chief Justice Calogero was the longest-serving justice in the history of the Louisiana Supreme Court, serving for 36 years, from January 10, 1973 to December 31, 2008.

He served as Chief Justice for 18 years, from April 1, 1990 to December 31, 2008. A native New Orleanian, Chief Justice Calogero attended St. Aloysius High School (now Brother Martin High School) and Loyola University. He earned his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1954, graduating first in his class and serving as President of the Student Editorial Board of the Loyola Law Review. He later received a Master of Laws in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia (’92). He served three years in the U.S. Army, first as a military police officer, and then as a “JAG” in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He worked as a law clerk at Civil District Court in Orleans Parish prior to practicing law from 1958 to 1972 with the law firm of Landrieu, Calogero & Kronlage with life-long friends Moon Landrieu and Charles A. Kronlage, Jr.

In 1972, Chief Justice Calogero was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court from the First Supreme Court District, consisting of the Parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines. He was reelected in 1974, 1988 and 1998. His impact on the Supreme Court was felt immediately when he became the majority vote for opinions that followed the directive of the U.S. Supreme Court in the criminal justice field, directives that were being resisted in Louisiana. During his historic tenure on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Calogero authored over 1,000 learned majority opinions, concurrences, and dissents, including numerous historic and groundbreaking decisions, and participated in over 6,000 oral arguments and published opinions. His opinions and writings reflected his intellect, his integrity, his respect for the rule of law, and his passionate dedication to fairness and justice.

As Chief Justice, he spearheaded numerous reform initiatives in the area of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice in Louisiana, many of which serve as national models of court improvement. Chief Justice Calogero considered his Court’s most important administrative achievements to be completion of the restoration of the Royal Street Courthouse, improvements in Louisiana’s indigent defense system, improvements in both the attorney and judicial disciplinary systems, and the maintenance of a consistently current court docket for 36 years.

Following his retirement from the Louisiana Supreme Court, in 2008, Chief Justice Calogero returned to the private practice of law. He opened his own boutique firm focused on appellate practice.

During his illustrious career, Chief Justice Calogero was the recipient of numerous accolades and awards, such as the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s 1991 Distinguished Jurist Award; an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Loyola University School of Law; induction as an honorary member of LSU Law Center’s Order of the Coif and Hall of Fame; the Justice Albert Tate, Jr. Award from the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; the distinguished Medal of Honor Award from the Mayor of New Orleans; and in 2007, the American Judicature Society, a national nonpartisan organization dedicated to the effective administration of justice, awarded Chief Justice Calogero the Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence. He continued to receive honors after his retirement in 2008, including the dedication in his honor of an issue of the Louisiana Bar Journal, and Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Counsel’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Louisiana Bar Foundation instituted the Calogero Justice Award, which is awarded annually to recognize a significant contribution to the Louisiana justice system. He also received the Integritas Vitae Award, Loyola University’s highest honor, which is given to individuals who possess a high moral character in a lifetime of service, and the ACLU’s Ben Smith Award for his commitment to the advancement of civil liberties in Louisiana.

Upon his retirement in 2008 from the Louisiana Supreme Court, Chief Justice Calogero expressed that he hoped he would be remembered as “an energetic, hard-working, honest and able judge who contributed to maintaining stability in the law and jurisprudence while serving the least privileged of our citizens with compassion, integrity and fairness.” Upon learning of his death, Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson commented, “Today we lost a giant in our legal profession. I served with Justice Calogero for fourteen years on the Supreme Court and during that time, I developed a deep respect for my colleague’s intellect, his integrity, and his dedication to fairness and justice. His contributions to Louisiana law and judicial administration are immeasurable.”

Funeral arrangements are not finalized at this time. Chief Justice Calogero is survived by his wife Leslie M. Langhetee, ten children, and many loving grandchildren, nieces, nephews and extended family.

Contributed by the Louisiana Supreme Court