Person of Interest: Judge Pammela Lattier, Shreveport City Court
What types of cases do you typically oversee?
We’re a court of limited jurisdiction. We see both criminal and civil matters. Our civil matters involve cases of $35, 000 dollars or less, eviction matters, small claims and peace bonds. Criminal matters involve misdemeanor cases, which include domestic abuse, battery, DWI cases and traffic matters.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
I think what I like most is the ability to help people. There are a lot of hurting people coming into the courtroom. It’s rewarding when you can resolve conflicts for people in a way that makes them feel heard and understood. For me, handling evictions are difficult. Having to put people out of their homes is difficult emotionally. Very often, the landlord has a legitimate claim and the tenant has no legal defense. I really struggle when I have to handle these types of cases.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I’m most proud of the life skills class that I started in January of 2012 called Optimal Potential: Life Changing Strategies for Youth in Crisis. I’ve always had a love for the law and a passion to help people. I merge those together and help to change the lives of young adults ages 18 to 24. We have graduations and the end of each course, and to see the transformation of these young people that come through is so rewarding. They come in with no hope or direction, and they leave changed. They have hope, direction and purpose again. It was a vision that God gave me when I first got there. It gives them the opportunity to overcome the past and be successful moving forward. This program allows them another chance. We teach them things they need to know to navigate life. Even though they’re offenders, they are also victims because of many of their backgrounds and home lives. We teach them positive self-image, setting goals and we help give them a plan to achieve those goals. We give them the resources they need to move forward with their lives whether it be completing high school or even getting into college or trade school. Whatever it is that they need to improve their quality of life, we want to help them do that. In six years, 1,851 people have been referred to the class. Of those, 1,687 have successfully completed it. Eighty-six percent have no subsequent law violations. It’s the only program of its kind in the state that I know of. I’m happy to say that so many people involved in the court system are in support of the program.
What do you do outside of the courtroom for fun?
I love playing tennis and working out regularly in order to keep my mind sharp. I also really enjoy movies.
Can we get some background on your family?
I have a daughter who is 19-years-old and a sophomore at LSU-Baton Rouge, Amber Elise Lattier. She wants to be a screenwriter. My dad was a military policeman in the Army. My brother got into trouble growing up. There was a sort of disconnect between the two and it made me want to make a difference in the lives of young people like him. My parents always taught me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. That’s what I want to communicate with the young people I work with. My motto is: You’re the master of your own destiny. No one can decide for you what you can or cannot become. We decide for ourselves.