Roughly 300 people attended the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Celebration on Friday evening, March 6, to honor eight LSU Law alumni at the Marriott Hotel in Baton Rouge.
“Our 10,000 LSU Law alums have made their mark on our state and in places throughout the globe,” said LSU Law Interim Dean Lee Ann Lockridge in her opening remarks, “and tonight we gather to honor eight of our graduates who have distinguished themselves in the practice of law, in our communities and within the walls of LSU Law.”
Longtime LSU Law Professor William Crawford, Hon. Ernestine Gray, Hon. Guy Holdridge, and attorneys H. Alston Johnson III and James P. Roy were honored as Distinguished Alumni of the Year. Distinguished Achievement honorees were attorneys Glenn Armentor, John M. Madison Jr. and Mary Olive Pierson.
Among those in attendance were LSU Interim President Tom Galligan; Hon. Kitty Kimball, retired chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court; Hon. John deGravelles of the U.S. District Court for Middle District of Louisiana; LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Leach Werner; Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne; and LSU Law Chancellor Emeritus John Costonis. Many LSU Law alumni, professors and retired professors were also on hand.
“Bill Crawford is one the most dedicated faculty members to walk the halls of the LSU Law Center,” Lockridge said. “His contributions to the law in Louisiana are enumerable, and on top of that he is a wonderfully kind person.”
Professor William E. Crawford received his B.A. in 1951 from LSU and his J.D. in 1955 from LSU Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Louisiana Law Review. He joined the New Orleans firm of Chaffe, McCall in 1955, and was elected to serve as secretary-treasurer of the Louisiana State Bar Association for two terms from 1960 to 1962.
Crawford’s service to LSU Law extended more than five decades. He became assistant dean of the LSU Law Center in 1966, associate professor in 1969 and professor in 1971. In 1985, he was awarded the James J. Bailey Professorship in Law. He also served as director of the Law Institute from 1978 to 2018, a 40-year period in which the institute rendered extraordinary service to the Louisiana Legislature and the public. Crawford retired from LSU Law following the 2019 fall semester after 53 years with the law school.
“If I had a single wish to be granted,” Crawford said, “it would be to do it all over again.”
His publications include the translation of the “New Code of Civil Procedure in France, Book I” (Grivart de Kerstrat & Crawford) in 1978; a special edition of the “Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure” each year since 1983; the revision of the three-volume “Formulary” as part of “West’s LSA Civil Procedure, Vols. 10, 11, and 12”; and “Louisiana Civil Law Treatise, Tort Law” in 2000. The LSU Law Library and Westlaw list 16 books or chapters in books that Crawford has authored, along with 25 articles in various legal publications. Westlaw also credits Crawford with 155 citations as a non-law review secondary source.
Crawford has lectured regularly as part of the Continuing Legal Education programs of LSU Law since 1971. He was the principal expert witness for the governor’s program of Tort Revision in the 1996 legislative session.
He also has served as special master to the U.S. District Court in Bankruptcy Litigation. In 2003, Crawford’s students honored him as Distinguished Professor of the Year, and the Louisiana Bar Foundation bestowed him with the same honor that year. He is a longstanding member of the Chancellor’s/Dean’s Council.
“The Honorable Ernestine Gray is the type of judge that everyone would wish for,” Lockridge said. “She is known for her fairness, ethical behavior and her commitment to justice.”
Judge Ernestine Steward Gray was first elected to the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court on Nov. 6, 1984, where she has served with distinction for 35 years. A native of South Carolina, Gray received her early education in the public schools of Orangeburg, S.C. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, and LSU Law, where she received her J.D. in 1976.
“When I graduated in 1976 I could not have ever imagined this evening,” Gray said.
Gray was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1976 and was in private practice prior to her election to the bench. She had an extensive career in government positions, most notably with the Louisiana Attorney General’s office working on antitrust matters, and many years as a trial attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Since the start of her career, Gray has been involved in the juvenile justice arena and family law areas, working first with the Baton Rouge Legal Aid Society, where she handled hundreds of family law cases.
Gray is past president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National CASA, YMCA and Volunteers of America Boards of Directors. She currently serves as the president of the Pelican Center for Children and Families, and she is also involved in several national and local legal and judicial organizations, where she works to help ensure and independent judiciary and a court system where litigants receive procedural fairness and justice.
Gray regularly appears before the Louisiana Legislature to provide information on issues relating to youth in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems as well as what courts need in order to provide justice. She has been invited to speak before committees of the U.S. Congress, and she is a frequent presenter and speaker on the local, state and national levels.
Her numerous leadership awards include: 2019 Inductee, Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame; 2019 Casey Excellence for Children Leadership Award; 2018 Outstanding Service Award from The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation; 2018 Inductee into the National Bar Association’s Fred D. Gray Hall of Fame; and 2018 Recipient of the LSU NBLSA Alumnus of the Year, among many others.
Gray is married to James Austin Gray II and is the mother of two children: Cheryl Gray Evans, an attorney and former State Senator, and James Austin Gray III, an attorney and chemical engineer. She and her husband are the proud grandparents of four grandchildren.
“The Honorable Guy Holdridge is a common face around the LSU Law Center,” Lockridge said. “He teaches, judges moot court competitions, advises students, and famously has led many an afternoon running group around the LSU campus.”
Judge Guy P. Holdridge currently serves on the First Circuit Court of Appeal, and previously served as a district judge of the 23rd Judicial District Court. He served as a district court judge since 1991 and was the chief judge in 1991, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2006 and 2014. He earned a B.A. from LSU in 1974 and a J.D. in 1978 from LSU Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Louisiana Law Review. He is a member of the LSU Law Center Hall of Fame.
Holdridge serves on the adjunct faculty of LSU Law Center, where he teaches Louisiana Civil Procedure I and II. He is also on the committee for the LSU Trial Advocacy Program. He is a longtime member of the council of the Louisiana Law Institute and currently serves as director.
“As a small-town country judge, it is just remarkable to be standing among such legal legends today,” Holdridge said.
He is also a member of the Children’s Code, Child Custody, Expropriation, Prescription, Bail Bonds, Summary Judgment, Civil Procedure and Adult Guardianship Committees of the Law Institute. He is currently serving as the reporter for the Recusal Subcommittee and is the past reporter of the Expedited Jury Trial, Summary Judgment, and Bail Bonds Committees. He also serves as acting reporter for the Criminal Law and Procedure Committee, which is revising the Post-Conviction Relief articles.
Holdridge served two terms as past chairman of the Louisiana Certified Shorthand Reporter’s Board, which manages court reporters of the state. He is a past president of the Louisiana District Judges Association, a member of the Executive Committee and a past chairman of the District Judges “Best Practices Committee.” He is the past president of the First Circuit Judges Association.
Holdridge is also a member and past president of the Louisiana Judicial College Board of Directors. Along with LSU Law Professor William Corbett, he is co-chair of the Louisiana Judicial College/LADC torts conference and is a frequent speaker at Louisiana Judicial College programs. He is a member of the Louisiana Supreme Court Strategic Planning Committee and Jury Instructions Committee. He is also a frequent speaker at the Attorney General’s Program for Justice of the Peace and Constables. Holdridge also speaks at various Louisiana State Bar Association programs, and is an annual speaker for the Young Lawyers-Baton Rouge Bar Association summer CLE program.
In 2018, the Louisiana Bar Association awarded Holdridge the Catherine D. Kimball Award for the Advancement of the Administration of Justice. He was also awarded the President’s Award by the Baton Rouge Bar Association.
“Alston Johnson has built a reputation for leadership, integrity, wisdom and service,” Lockridge said. “As a former LSU Law faculty member, he has shared his legal knowledge and acumen with hundreds of students.”
Alston Johnson III graduated cum laude from Georgetown University in 1967 and earned his law degree from LSU Law in 1970. He was senior associate editor of the Louisiana Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.
Johnson was thereafter to combine teaching, writing and law practice in an exceptional manner. His formal teaching career spans almost five decades, fourteen years as a full-time member of the LSU Law faculty and the balance as an adjunct professor. He has been a CLE presenter throughout that entire period. During his full-time faculty service, he was also the executive director of the Louisiana Judicial College in 1983-1984. Author or co-author of three books in the Louisiana Civil Law Treatise Series and of over sixty published articles, Johnson has made a substantial written contribution to the fabric of Louisiana law.
“Many giants of LSU Law—legends to me—were given this honor in years past and it’s humbling to be in their company,” Johnson said.
His law practice is similarly distinguished. In his career as a partner at the Phelps Dunbar law firm beginning in 1984, he has briefed and argued approximately 200 appeals in the Louisiana Supreme Court, U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and all of the Louisiana intermediate appellate courts. Formally and informally, he has served as counsel to justices, judges, governors, legislators, U.S. senators and political candidates, as well as clients ranging from the Judicial Conference of the U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to the Louisiana State Senate to Lloyd’s of London syndicates.
He is a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and chaired the Louisiana Supreme Court committee to study plain jury instructions, which were adopted by the court in 2014. He also chaired the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Tort and Insurance Reform in 1988, which produced legislation, and was the president of the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel in 1994-1995. Johnson has served as a reporter for the Louisiana State Law Institute and as a member of its council and is a member of the American Law Institute.
He was the recipient of the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s Distinguished Attorney Award in 2005 and in the same year was honored with the Boisfontaine Trial Advocacy Award by the Louisiana State Bar Association.
“John Madison is an extraordinary supporter and volunteer for the LSU Law Center,” Lockridge said. “As a long-time Board of Trustees member, he had hosted countless events for LSU Law alumni. He is an outstanding practitioner who is held in high esteem by colleagues.”
John M. Madison Jr. was born and raised in Shreveport. He is a member of the third generation of Madisons who have practiced law in this state, and his son, John M. Madison III, represents the fourth generation of Madison lawyers in Louisiana.
He was a founding member of Wiener, Weiss and Madison in Shreveport and has practiced law continuously with the firm since 1975. His practice includes commercial litigation, construction law, business law, employment law, and oil and gas law, with emphasis on representation of mineral owners. His experience ranges from the representation of the owners of small businesses to national corporations.
“The LSU Law school taught me how to be a lawyer and has allowed me to do what I love for 50 years,” Madison said. “I’ve never gotten up a single day and didn’t love my job. I’ll be forever grateful for this honor.”
John received a B.A. from Washington & Lee University in 1964. Before going to law school, he served as a Lieutenant in a Counterintelligence Detachment in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. In 1969, he received a J.D. from LSU Law, where he was a member of Order of the Coif, Phi Delta Phi and the Louisiana Law Review. He is licensed to practice before all state and federal courts in Louisiana and the U.S. Supreme Court.
He is a fellow and member of the American Bar Foundation, and a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and Shreveport Bar Association, for which he is a former president. He is also a former president of the LSU Law School Alumni Association.
Madison has been married to Jan Myers Madison for 51 years, and they have two sons, John III and Clint, and six grandchildren. For the past 50 years, he has been active in educational, religious, civic, political and charitable organizations in Shreveport.
“Mary Olive Pierson is a legend around Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana,” Lockridge said. “She’s known for her passion and her dedication to her clients. As an early female graduate of LSU Law, she cut a path through what was then a very male-dominated profession.”
Mary Olive Pierson was born and raised in Baton Rouge, attended St. Joseph Academy, earned a B.S. in accounting in 1966 from LSU and was one of seven women to graduate from LSU Law in 1970.
Pierson works in Baton Rouge at the Cooper & Pierson law firm. She began her career serving as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Pike Hall of the Second Circuit, Louisiana Court of Appeals, from 1971-1972. After returning to Baton Rouge, she practiced with the law office of Brown, McKernan, Monsour & Screen.
During her practice, Pierson has been a fierce trial advocacy lawyer in many high-profile cases and has been a strong community leader. She has served in elective office as a member of the East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council and served as the chief administrative officer for the Office of Mayor-President.
“I hope that my career in litigation has at least led the way for some young women,” Pierson said, noting about half of the students at LSU Law today are female. “I’ve had the most wonderful career and I’ve made so many wonderful friends. I have loved what I have done, and I thank the LSU Law school for it.”
In 2012, she was a candidate for the seat of retiring Chief Justice Catherine Kimball on the Louisiana Supreme Court. In 2013, she was awarded the prestigious Curtis Boisfontaine Trial Advocacy Award by the Louisiana State Bar Association. In recognizing Pierson for the award, the bar association emphasized that she is a consummate litigator who has pursued justice for her clients, rich or poor, through effective and ethical trial advocacy.
Pierson has been an active participant in LSU Law Center events and played a key role in the celebration of the Law Center’s Centennial celebration in 2006. An endowed scholarship was established in her honor in 2014 at the Law Center to assist students of limited means, regardless of grades.
“Jim Roy, former president of the LSU Board of Supervisors, loves his law school,” Lockridge said. “He’s a person that never says ‘no,’ whether we ask him to take on leadership roles or to support the school financially. He’s a tremendous litigator and a highly regarded lawyer.”
James P. Roy is the managing member of Domengeaux Wright Roy & Edwards LLC in Lafayette, and primarily represents maritime and general personal injury plaintiffs. He is a 1976 LSU Law graduate and earned an LLM from Georgetown University Law School.
He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, which has an active membership of only 500 plaintiff and defense lawyers in North America. He is past president of the Louisiana Association for Justice, has served as a member and chairman of the LSU Board of Supervisors, and has been on the LSU Law Alumni Board of Trustees for many years.
“I’m truly speechless. This is a huge, huge honor, and all I can say is that I am standing on the shoulders of this great law school at LSU,” Roy said.
A past president of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association, he is listed in Woodward White’s “The Best Lawyers in America” in the fields of maritime law and personal injury litigation. He has also been awarded the highest possible peer-reviewed rating by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for professional excellence and integrity.
Roy is a former chair of the LSU Law Annual Fund, has been a Dean’s Council member since its inception and a principal philanthropic donor to the LSU Law Center.
He is admitted to practice in all federal and state courts in Louisiana, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He was lead counsel in the $43 million federal court jury trial verdict for a double amputee in Becker v. Tidewater, for which the National Law Journal selected him “Litigator of the Month.” Roy also gave the opening statement and was a leader of the Plaintiff Steering Committee trial team for the phase I liability trial in MDL 2179 (BP Deepwater Horizon). He is the court-appointed Plaintiffs’ Co-Liaison and Co-Lead Class Counsel for MDL 2179 (the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Litigation in Federal Court in New Orleans).
“There is no greater advocate for the LSU Law Center than Glenn,” Lockridge said. “He never fails to answer the call to serve and, of course, he now serves on the LSU Board of Supervisors. In practice, he is a renowned litigator, having achieved remarkable results for his clients.”
Glenn Armentor is general partner of Glenn Armentor Law Corporation in Lafayette, which he founded in 1977 as a plaintiffs’ litigation firm. Armentor earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is a 1977 LSU Law graduate.
He is a current member of the LSU Board of Supervisors and the LSU Law Alumni Board of Trustees. For more than 40 years, he has been an active member of the Louisiana Association for Justice, formerly the Louisiana Trial Lawyers’ Association, having served in every role in the organization over that time, including president. Since 2013, he has continued to serve as past president and has led its executive committee. Armentor also founded the Lafayette Trial Lawyers’ Association in 1984 and has been a stalwart supporter ever since.
Inspired by his own upbringing in abject poverty, Armentor founded the “Pay It Forward Scholarship of Excellence” in 2009 to provide financial support to at-risk youth who wish to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He has also funded the Glenn Armentor LSU Law Annual Scholarship in recent years.
“I’ve enjoyed it more than almost anything else,” Armentor said of his “Pay It Forward” scholarship programs. “I’m not sure I deserve this honor, but I sure am glad to be here to receive it. It touches me deeply.”
Armentor’ also served as a charter member of the Boys & Girls Club of Acadiana in the early 1980s and has been a major supporter of the club ever since. In recognition of his efforts to promote the club, he was given the Gold Medallion Award by The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Due to his commitment to at-risk youth, Armentor has also been an active supporter of the Ragin’ Cajuns Amateur Boxing Club since the mid-1980s. He remains one of six major patrons and supporters of the club.
Among his many honors, Armentor’s law firm was awarded the Lafayette Parish Bar Association’s “Pro-Bono Award for Best Firm” in 2001, 2003 and 2004. In 2012, he was awarded the Louisiana State Bar Association’s coveted Crystal Gavel Award for “making a difference in his local community and performing services out of a sense of duty, responsibility and professionalism.” Largely due to his “Pay It Forward” scholarship program, he was awarded the 2014 Jefferson Award for Community Service and Public Activism, which is given to an outstanding community activist in Louisiana.